A new Photo tours feature has been added to Google Maps this week, which guides you through an immersive 3D photo scene, allowing you to view landmarks from around the world from different perspectives.
Using advanced computer vision techniques, the 3D tours are created from public, user-contributed Picasa and Panaromio photos. Photo tours are available for over 15,000 locations. Available tours will be indicated in the results panel if you search for a specific place, or on a landmark’s label if you’re browsing the map. Clicking the link will take you straight to the tour but you’ll need to turn on Google Maps with WebGL for it to work. Google described how they produce these photo tours:
We start by finding clusters of overlapping photos around major landmarks. From the photos, our system derives the 3D shape of each landmark and computes the location and orientation of each photo. Google Maps then selects a path through the best images, and adds 3D transitions to seamlessly guide you from photo to photo as if you’re literally flying around the landmark and viewing it from different perspectives.
Check out the video below to see the technology in action: