Google wants to give you a sense of what it was like to create its most awe-inspiring Street View collections with a new section in Maps called Treks.
On the Treks site you can check out behind-the-scenes images, stories, and even audio files explainingt what it was like to nab Street View photos of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building; the Canadian Arctic; Mt. Everest; the Grand Canyon; Australia’s Great Barrier Reef; the Amazon Basin; and the Kennedy Space Center. (Treks shares its name with the 40-pound Trekker backpack camera that captures 360-degree Street View images on foot.)
The new Treks tours are meant to complement Google’s Views site that debuted in late July. Views shows off some of the best Street View imagery collections from around the globe, including the Eiffel Tower, Mount Fuji, and Antarctica. The site also lets you explore user-contributed 360-degree images. If you have an Android phone running version 4.2 or higher you can upload your own photo spheres to the site from locations around the world.
Trekking through treks
Once you land on Treks, you’ll notice that only the tours for the Burj Khalifa and Iqualuit, Canada appear to be designed with the new site in mind. These two behind-the-scenes looks start with a large, striking image followed by a map of each site’s location. That introduction is followed by an interactive Google Map that features some kind of extra audio goodie.
In the case of Iqualuit, you hear the snow crunch under the Street View photographer’s feet as they walk across the frozen land carrying the Trekker on their back. For the Burj Khalifa, you hear the wind whistling in from the desert as you check out the view hanging off the 80th floor like a window washer at the world’s tallest building.
Next, you can take three guided audio tours at each location using a mix of Street View and audio files. Once the audio tour is done you can continue to explore the location using Maps and Street View imagery. Finally, you can check out a “making of” video for each location where Street View crew members talk about capturing images for Google’s Maps collection.
As an added bonus, the Burj Khalifa Trek also features an image with interesting facts about the building such as the speed of the building’s elevator (22 mph) and the number of stairs the building has from the ground level to the 160th floor (2,909). There’s also a quick primer on the building’s design, what the building is used for, and a comparison to other giant buildings around the world.
The other Treks are not as feature-filled as the Iqualuit and Burj Khalifa tours, but are still worth checking out. These Treks feature a striking image at the top, followed by a quick explainer on each individual project. The rest of the trek lets you check out some select Street View imagery with no audio tours, a slideshow of images from the Street View team, and, if available, a YouTube video from each project.
Treks is a great addition to Maps that any Street View fanatic will want to spend some time further exploring some of the most amazing locations on Earth.
Google has more Treks planned for the future as well. Next up will be a behind-the-scenes look at shooting Street View images for Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands and Venice, Italy’s famous city of canals.