One day when we look back, I think we’ll recognize several points in time as being seminal in our use of the Internet. The launch of YouTube, proving that video clips could provide an alternative entertainment medium to rival TV, HTML5 for the means to replace the desktop computer with a web browser based device and finally Google Maps with Street View, as proof of the fact that digitizing across a global network can introduce a completely new paradigm for our living habits.
The fact is that Street View is delivering more and more value every day, as people use it to navigate uncertain areas and grab views of the world they could never see before. Now the clever folk at Google are introducing a version of street view for inside shops and stores which could have the same effect.
Google Business Photos is a new project to allow any shop owner to digitize the interior of their store and give prospective customers a 360 degree panoramic tour of their products and services. The clever thing is not just that this should lead to more engagement between customers and store owners, at a time when online shopping threatens the livelihood of many stores on the high street, but also that it is being done in conjunction with an army of freelance ‘trusted’ photographers, who will be doing the actual photography.
The self-service model means that any store owner can request a photo shoot from a photographer in their area, after which the panorama will be uploaded to Google’s servers, tweaked and adjusted and embedded on the relevant portion of Google Maps for everyone to see. The store owner also owns their own photos, and can order re-shoots, or have changes made if they’re unhappy with the look. It’s a brilliant idea and one that should really help encourage consumers to return to their local stores.