Google today launched Google Maps Street View, a new Google Maps feature that shows a 360-degree view from the streets of select cities.
"With Street View, you can virtually explore city neighborhoods by viewing and navigating within 360-degree scenes of street-level imagery," said Stephen Chau, product manager for Google Maps, in a blog post. "It feels as if you're walking down the street!"
Initially, Street View images are available in Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. Additional cities will be covered in the future.
At some point, these images may include live video feeds. While Google has other engineering priorities right now, Alan Eustace, senior VP of engineering & research, expressed interest in live video feeds while speaking with reporters at Google's recent Searchology event and noted that company co-founder Larry Page felt similarly.
Amazon's A9.com search engine pioneered the use of street images in its local search service back in January 2005. The company spent eight months compiling a database of 35 million images in 22 cities by sending drivers around the streets of major cities in vehicles equipped with GPS devices, cameras, and computers. Former A9.com CEO Udi Manber now works at Google as a VP of engineering.