Google Street View Allows Users to Step Back in Time


Google is not necessarily in a rush to impress anyone, but with the new unveiling of Google Maps’ Street View, users will now be able to step back in time with their favorite locations, allowing information and memories to be experienced in entirely new ways. The seven-year project is sure to inspire, intrigue and impress the one billion users that frequent the organization’s app.

Google has been collecting pictures and information for the debut of this new feature since 2007. One of the main methods of progress within this endeavor has been the use of Google’s custom-built cars, equipped with high-capacity cameras that take hundreds of pictures of the streets on which they are deployed.

While seven years is not an extremely long time, users will be able to readily observe the before-and-after images of familiar places, perhaps most notably different areas throughout the world that experienced natural disasters sometime during 2007-2014. Some of the pictures even have people who were captured in the frame when the Google car shot the image.

While not every location in the latest version of Street View displays “time travel” pictures, the new feature will encapsulate regions of 52 countries. If users unexpectedly find themselves in a frame and want to be privatized, Google is honoring that request and has already blurred out a number of individuals per their contact with the organization. There is no telling how developments in the future will allow for people to step even further back in time, but for now, Google is yet again pioneering a technological blessing with Street View, a convenience that has high probability of user satisfaction.

For those who are approving any images  in which they find themselves, the pictures have huge potential of becoming family keepsakes or scrapbook inclusions. The beauty of such technology is that it allows for a person, place or event to be remembered and appreciated within a wider scope than before, and beyond the limitations of what friends and family can capture.

Luc Vincent, the director of engineering within the Google Maps Street View department, commented that the active locations within Street View will usually feature two to three “time slices,” with more urbanized locations featuring 20 or more images. Most users of the app have already been able to experience it fully, but the entire roll-out of the app will not be considered complete until Friday.

Perhaps one of the most engaging representations of the app’s new feature is being able to view the progress of the Freedom Tower in New York where the original World Trade Center used to stand. While the conglomerate of buildings is now referred to as the One World Trade Center, the Freedom Tower building began construction in 2006, was completed in May of 2013, and will open to the public sometime this year. At 1,776 feet tall, it is currently the fourth-tallest skyscraper in the world.

Bringing so many images and so much information together to be available at the touch of a few buttons is a testament to how much Google has divided their resources in order to conquer problems, both small and large. Even though Google declined to provide an answer for how many pictures are currently available in Street View, there must already be billions of incredible visual archives that will be accessible for decades to come. Despite a shaky premiere of Google Glass, it seems that Google has successfully struck both an intellectual and emotional chord in the hearts of its one billion Street View users, allowing them to step back in time with increasing ease.

Opinion By Brad Johnson


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