Ever go onto Google Maps and wonder what an area looks like at night, in different seasons or even during another year? Google has recognized that this is a service that many people would want, especially after repeated questioning from users asking whether or not Google keeps the imagery from the past. By taking advantage of the photography that Google already had, users can now zoom through streets all over the world while turning back the clock, able to look at pictures from as far back as 2007 with the Time Machine feature, available now around the world.
“We like to think we were building a 3-D image of the world,” said Google Maps Street View director of engineering Luc Vincent concerning the development of Google Maps, “and now the mirror is actually 4-D… You can go back in time (aka, the fourth dimension), look at things the way they were, and sort of get lost in exploration.”
Already, users are doing just that in their discovery through the Google Time Machine. Users can see the neighborhood they lived in years ago, and even look back on their house to see which cars are parked in the driveway or watch progress on an old remodel. Famous recent landmarks can also be viewed through Google Maps in different phases of construction. Even disaster-struck areas like the parts of Japan affected by the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami show a stark contrast between the areas both before and after the emergency occurred.
Of course, not every image on Google Maps will have the time machine feature, but if you see an hourglass icon in the upper left corner of a Street View panorama, click on it to scroll through the archive of past imagery. While major metropolitan areas may have up to 20 “slices” of time for users to peruse, Vincent says that most other locations will only have two or three options. Still, this update roughly doubles the previous 6 million miles worth of Street View imagery available online.
Edited by Maurice Nagle