In a move sure to draw comparisons with Microsoft’s Photosynth, Google has released a new feature to Panoramio letting you “Look Around” at popular locations around the world. Panoramio is a photo uploading site which uniquely requires all photos to be geotagged when they are uploaded. There are over 5 million photos from Panoramio accessible through both Google Earth and now also available through Google Maps.
To create the new “Look Around” feature, Google is taking locations with a high density of photos (like the Sydney Opera House for example) and, using photogrammetry techniques, they are indexing photos that are close approximations of the same location except maybe from a slightly different perspective. Check out this YouTube video to see it in action:
This gives you a way of sensing the 3D relationship of the location of photos – and, in fact, Microsoft’s Photosynth can generate 3D points from the photos. Google’s “Look Around” is a Flash application, and is easy and fun to use. And, they’ve already made available a lot of locations (they are leveraging their large database of geotagged photos to help with the process). Just check out some of these cool examples of popular destinations:
There are even more locations than those represented here. Just explore Panoramio photos for popular destinations and look for the “Look Around” link underneath the photos. This has nothing to do with Google Earth at this point – but, maybe Google will write an algorithm to automatically generate Google Earth PhotoOverlays of these photos?