Google has already stretched the definition of its "Street View" feature far beyond what it once meant. Instead of just showing us what it looks like to walk around, it now gives us views of some of the most amazing natural wonders of the world, including down into the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef, as well mountain peaks ike Kilimanjaro and Everest, places that most of us will probably never see otherwise. Now Google is taking users into some of the most impressive man-made structures as well.
Google unveiled a pretty cool new feature on Monday: a "street view" of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is, at At 2,717 feet and 160 floors, the tallest building in the world. It is the first time Google has captured a skyscraper on Street View.
(You are probably most familar with the Burj Khalifa as the building that Tom Cruise scaled in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, an incredible scene that I really hope you all got to see in IMAX because... wow. That scene made me so nervous my girlfriend started complaining about how sweaty my hands were getting!)
Now, the term "street view" is misleading and, frankly, a little confusing when applied to what Google has done here. When I hear street view, I think of an image of what the building looks like from, well, the street. But Google is instead allows people to tour the building, both from the inside and the outside, without ever having to ever visit it by offering a 360-degree panoramic of numerous indoor and outdoor locations of the building.
"In addition to the breathtaking views from the world’s tallest observation deck on the 124th floor, you can also see what it feels like to hang off one of the building’s maintenance units on the 80th floor, normally used for cleaning windows!" Tarek Abdalla, Head of Marketing - Middle East & North Africa at Google, wrote in a blog post.
"Visit the highest occupied floor in the world on the 163rd floor, experience being in the fastest-moving elevators in the world (at 22 mph) and check out the highest swimming pool in the world on the 76th floor."
The imagery was collected over three days using the Street View Trekker and Trolley. The Trolley is a push-cart, fitted with a camera, that allows Google to take Street View pictures indoors, while the Trekker is a wearable backpack is outfitted with a camera system on top to capture areas that vehicles can't go.
Obviously, Google is not going to stop at the Burj Khalifa, and we should probably expect similar views of other famous structures around the world. But I hope that that does not prevent people from visiting them in person as well. I have been to the top of some of the world's most famous structures, including the Space Needle, the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, and I can say for sure that there is nothing like the experience of actually being there.
Check out this cool video from Google about the project: