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Google uses camera-outfitted trike to capture Central Park for digital tours

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TWC News: Google uses camera-outfitted trike to capture Central Park for digital tours
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Talk about a pretty cool job. This Google employee is part of a team that is flown to the most interesting, scenic and historic spots all over the globe, then gets paid to see as much of those sites as possible all the while getting a great workout.

That job, rider of the Google Street View trikes, just wrapped up capturing much of Central Park's 800-plus acres so that anyone who wants to visit it online can, just like with sites like the Coliseum in Rome, virtually take a walk around.

“It has a camera setup on the back so that when the rider is going down pedestrian paths and other places where our Street View cars can't go, they can get imagery of beautiful places like Central Park to show to our users around the world. There is GPS on it so it knows where it is so that when you look at it on a map, things are placed in the right position. Of course there is quality assurance testing and other stuff to make sure it all makes sense,” says Jesse Friedman of Google Maps.

The trike has also been taken to malls, museums and other places where the Google Street View cars can't go. For Central Park, it took the trike and car combined about a week to photograph it. Google hasn't put a timeline on when it will all be strung together online.

For those still looking for their 15 minutes of fame, yes, if the trike is coming, they will be in a Google Street View map... sort of.

“We blur all the faces and the license plates, so you will not be identifiable by your face," says Friedman. "If you really don't want to be on there you can go onto Google Maps and click on 'report a problem' and we will respect your request to not be on there. But as you might imagine, most people are just excited that they were there at the right time.”

Incidentally, in addition to trikes, the Google Street View team has also created a photo-capturing boat, snowmobile and backpack and has even struck a deal with NASA to make a Street View-type tour of Mars based on photos that will be taken by the Curiosity Rover which just arrived at the red planet.

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