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Google Street View heads indoors

You can now see inside select buildings using Google Street View. Is nowhere safe?

If you thought Google Street View couldn't get much cooler, have a look at this: you can now go inside businesses, according to the BBC. How long before someone turns this into a Grand Theft Auto-style free-roaming game?

It's only a pilot project at the moment, and you can only go inside select shops and businesses. But think of the potential.

"Building on the Google Art Project, which took Street View technology inside 17 acclaimed museums, this project is another creative implementation of Street View technology, to help businesses as they build their presence online," a company spokesperson told the BBC.

Google is inviting the most searched for types of business to request a visit by its photographers. Big chains are excluded at the moment, as are hospitals and lawyers' offices. Restaurants, hotels, shops, gyms and vehicle repair workshops are typical of those requested, and at the moment the programme is limited to London, Paris and some cities in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Rather than wandering the streets on Street View and popping in, however, you find participating businesses via Google Places. So it's early days yet, but still pretty cool. The photographers produce 360-degree images using fish-eye and wide-angle lenses. Business can also upload their own snaps.

It's quite limited at the moment, with just a few businesses, such as the pictured Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, and no more than two shots of each. But we can see a lot of businesses keen to lure more customers, especially considering the current economic meltdown.

What are the first businesses you want to see inside? Google's own offices? CNET UK HQ? Let us know on our Facebook page.