2 weeks ago, LTA and Google held a joint event to announce Live Traffic, commuters direction guides on Google Maps for Singapore. Today (2nd December 2009), Google launches Street View to Singapore, much to the delight of many Singaporean. Street View allows users to view and navigate 360 degree street-level imagery of Singapore. Singapore is the first country in Southeast Asia to get Street View and the fourth country in Asia Pacific after Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The event was held at Singapore Art House. As usual, you can see traces of Google at the event location (the BIG RED PIN).
From the reception, I can see that we were expecting a big crowd.
The event started around 11am. Before that, we had a chance to view Google Street View on a few demo stations. Of course, there were food.
A welcome speech, followed by a speech by Mr. Andrew McGlinchey, Head of Product Management, Google Southeast Asia.
We were given a hands on demonstration of Google Street View on how it can enhance the user experience of using Google Maps. According to Andrew, the Street View car will only access roads that is accessing by the public. Here is a picture of how a Street View car in Singapore looks like.
It is amazing that even the parking sign board can be seen clearly using Street View. Here are a few shots of Street View.
The picture below is at Empress Place, near to the event location. I took a picture of the actual place to let you see the differences.
And here is the Singapore Art House via Street View.
As you can see, Google is using a very wide angle lens. It is specially mounted onto the car to capture 360 degrees of image while it is traveling.
Google has ensure that although pictures on the public road were taken, privacy of people on the road is still maintained. All images on Google Maps Street View has been automatically processed to ensure that faces and car plate numbers are blurred out. Here are a few shots on what I meant.
Here is another funny one. It actually detected the human faces of an advertisement on a bus and automatically blurred them.
Of course, if you are unhappy about some spots or image on Street View, you can always report it (see the arrow on the below pic).
It will then prompt you to enter some details.
Next, Andrew did a live demonstration of Street View on an Google Android mobile phone. With its digital compass, you are able to move around the area to see the surrounding via Street View.
I had tried this function on Android phone before. Trust me, very nice.
Unfortunately, Windows Mobile do not have this Digital Compass function on the Google Maps. I wonder if Google will release another version of Google Maps that can activate this function for those phones with Digital Compass (ie. HTC HD2 🙂 )
Next, we have Mr. Derek Callow, Head of Marketing, Google Southeast Asia, to provide an insight on what consumers and businesses can do with Google Maps Street View.
He gave an example of how OCBC organized a OCBC Cycle Event with the help of Street View.
For consumers: –
- Explore parts of the world you’ve always wanted to visit.
- Preview how close your holiday accommodation is to transportation.
- Show faraway friends where you live and work.
- Walk the streets to find the amazing restaurant whose name you can’t remember.
- Arrange a virtual field trip for your students.
- Show your party guests where the venue is.
- Take a virtual walk through a neighbourhood before buying or renting a property.
- Moving to a new area? Explore nearby amenities such as parks, bus stops, and parking.
- Ensure a building entrance has wheelchair access.
- Plan your child’s walking route to school; show them landmarks so they don’t get lost.
For Businesses: –
- Help tourists plan itineraries by showing them famous landmarks near your hotel.
- Embed a Street View image on your website and show customers your storefront.
- Embed Street View images on your news website to show the locations of news events.
- Research new locations for offices or commercial premises from the comfort of your office.
- Check the location of customer and supplier offices before leaving work.
- Incorporate Street View into geography or history lessons.
- Evaluate locations for marketing campaigns, film shoots, or other events.
- Use the Street View API to show prospective buyers or tenants available properties that you’re developing or selling.
- Get a feel for the style of particular areas to help with design, urban planning, or preserving heritage.
- Help your new employees get to work by showing them your office location, where to park, or the nearest transit stop.
Indeed, for my personal experiences, I used Google Maps Street View in US to identify my location and surrounding. Very cool!
Our final speaker for the day is Mr. Ken Low, Assistant Chief Executive (Marketing), Singapore Tourism Board (STB). He talked about how Street View can further enhance the experience in Singapore, citing tourists can actually see Singapore before flying here so that they can plan their trip or book a hotel and also on how anyone who visited Singapore and wanted to revisit the places again can do so with Street View.
He also announces the winners of the online poll in which the Singapore public voted for the best tourist attractions to be photographed by the Street View Trike. Trike is a tricycle with Google special camera mounted on it. It can travel to places that Google car cannot access.
The top winner in each of the four voting categories are: Chinatown, Pagoda Street and Mosque Street for ‘Cultural Areas’; the Southern Ridge, Henderson Wave Bridge, Hort Park and Kent Ridge for ‘Hidden Gems’; Sentosa’s beaches and trails for ‘Natural Wonders’; and the Quays (Robertson, Clarke, Boat) and the Fullerton for ‘The City’.
Finally, the Questions and Answers Session. There were many questions but a few are quite funny. Someone asked why Google do not intend to improve the interface of Street View to make it more game like. He also asked how much Google had to pay for ERP while traveling on Singapore roads. Of course, Google replied that paying for tolls are investment that they had put into.
Also, some questions are linked to privacy like some buildings or places may be highly sensitive and what is Google stance on it. Google gave a very nice answer. All images collected are from public roads. If the buildings or places can be viewed from public roads, then it should be ok. Google also added that STB and various authorities also helped them in completing the project.
Another question is about the dynamic condition of Singapore roads (always changing). Google mentioned that next year (2010), the Google car will be back to capture the roads.
Photo shooting session.
And a final picture of the three main guys talking after the event.
Unfortunately, the Trike was not able to make it to the event. Hope that you enjoy my coverage.