WORLD CARTOGRAPHER Google has added a crowdsourcing element to Google Maps.
Using the Photosphere feature on Android handsets or a DSLR camera, users can now take 360 degree panoramas of places of interest and upload them to a gallery of views.
Google announced the enhancement to the existing Street View functionality on the Google Maps blog.
Street View and Photosphere product manager Evan Rappaport said, "We are excited to see the different types of Street View experiences that everyone will contribute.
"For example, this feature can now enable environmental non-profits to document and promote the beautiful places they strive to protect. It also opens up a new tool for photographers to showcase diversity in a specific location -- by times of day, weather conditions or cultural events - in a way that Street View currently doesn't cover."
All created views will be embeddable through the Maps API, and therefore will lend itself to bespoke applications such as tours of company facilities, or even estate agent specifications.
The Photosphere facility is part of the stock camera app on most Android phones, however some manufacturers, most notably Samsung, use their own camera app, meaning that users have to hack it back on themselves.
The interface works by joining sets of panorama pictures with linking points to form "constellations" of views on the 2D Google Map. Adding this functionality will assist Google in mapping the world, including the parts where its little mapping cars can't reach, though it might annoy Microsoft, which offers similar functionality in something it calls Photosynth. µ