If you’ve dreamed about driving the Google Maps Street View car, now you can take the DIY route. Chinese camera maker Insta360 announced today that the Pro — its $3,500 camera that shoots 8K, 360-degree imagery — is the first to be certified by Google as part of the “Street View Ready” program announced back in May. Basically, this is Google giving you the thumbs-up that this camera meets the specifications, quality, and accuracy necessary for capturing Street View scenery on your own terms (and dime).
Google established the Street View Ready program with four certification distinctions — mobile, auto (as in automotive), VR, and workflow. Insta360’s Pro camera is rated for auto, meaning that, should you fix one of these cameras to the top of your car, any joy ride you capture can then be uploaded to Street View using a combination of the Street View app and Insta360’s Pro Stitcher desktop app. After a few weeks sof processing, it could show up on Street View in the standalone app, Google Maps, or Google Earth, and would be attributed to you. At least three more will be certified “auto ready” by Google, and more details will be eventually be available on the Street View website.
Theoretically, this will let Google plug some of the gaps in its Street View coverage around the world by leaning on citizen mappers (or organizations) with some cash to burn. (Insta360 says Google will also offer 50 cameras through its Street View camera loan program.) As long as the imagery captured is up to Google’s algorithmic standards, what people capture will make it into Street View. It also gives users a chance to best Google at its own imagery game, as the company says Street View will always default to showing the “best” imagery available for any given location. But considering the company just upgraded the cameras on its own fleet of Street View cars, that might be a pretty tall task.