Google’s Street View now covers more than 5 million miles of the planet, but to capture every nook and cranny the company can’t just rely on its cars. The Google Street View Trekker is a backpack outfitted with 15 cameras to capture locations like the Grand Canyon and other spots where vehicles can’t go. Here at Google I/O we got to try on the Trekker ourselves — all 42 pounds of it.
The Trekker definitely feels heavy when you strap it on. However, the weight felt balanced enough that we could walk fairly comfortably on a manual treadmill in front of a three-panel screen showing the Grand Canyon. The 5-megapixel cameras record images every 2.5 seconds, stored to a mega-size solid state drive, and the images are then stitched together to create panoramic views.
According to Steve Silverman, operations manager for Google, the Trekker offers 8 hours of battery life, which should give wearers plenty of time to capture images of their surroundings. Silverman sees the backpacks being worn to record not only national parks but other locations like the narrow streets of Venice.
With redesigned versions of Google Maps on the way for smartphones and tablets and a new Google Maps experience for the desktop, Street View will only play a bigger role going forward.