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Friday, June 05, 2009
Google Introduces Smart Navigation in Street View

Google improved the Street View tool with a new mode of navigation which liberates users from the road forward and backward arrows and gets them where they want to go in just a few clicks.

Until now though, the usual way to navigate through Street View has remained the forward and backward arrows along the roads which move you to the next immediate panorama.

Street View's enhanced navigation can be used to travel to a new place just by double clicking on the place or object someone would like to see. Google's team has been able to accomplish this by making a compact representation of the building facade and road geometry for all the Street View panoramas using laser point clouds and differences between consecutive pictures.

"As you moves your mouse within Street View, you'll notice that the cursor now has lightly-shaded geometry attached to it - it will show an oval when your mouse is following a road and a rectangle when moving across the facades of buildings. We affectionately refer to this cursor geometry as the "pancake" because it has the appearance of a pancake laying flat to the object where the mouse is pointing. By giving you a sense of depth,it makes the flat image almost feel three-dimensional," Google explained.

Double clicking on the pancake transports users to the best panorama in that direction. "For instance, if you pick the front door of this church, you will be taken to the view shown below. Sometimes the pancake shows a little magnifying glass in the bottom right to indicate that double clicking will zoom in on the current image rather than transport you to a closer location. This happens when we've determined that the current panorama has the best view of the selected location," Google added.

Hitting the return arrow shown in the Address Box users can get back to the previous location.

Smart navigation fro street view also allows Googlers to do superhuman things like jump from one side of a river to another to see a faraway building.

Google's mission to organise the world's information ? thousands of street-level photographs of major cities worldwide has raised questions that the search engine is invading people's privacy, with many countries to have already banned Google's team from taking detailed photos in their territory.

Google has defended the extent of the images, saying they are no different to what people see in their daily lives, and claiming that the website is equipped with "easily accessible tools for flagging inappropriate or sensitive imagery for review and removal".

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