Earlier this week Google unveiled the new Street View feature on Google Maps. Street View takes the mapping service to a whole new level. Where previously we were awed by the detail of the aerial photography overlaid on Google’s mapping system, now users can zoom down to street level to see exactly what’s happening in any given neighborhood. It’s all there in Google Street View — every car, every pedestrian, every stray tabby.
Not surprisingly, the feature has met with mixed reviews. While most people are appropriately impressed by the technology, more than a few people are concerned by the privacy implications. Yesterday Boing Boing kept tabs on all of the interesting discoveries bloggers were able to find in just the first day of the Street View’s availability. There was a crazy lady concerned that her cat had been photographed, a guy walking out of a strip club on O’Farrel Street, and loads of innocent bystanders who just happened to be out walking around the day the Google van rolled through their neighborhood.
Predictably, “concerned citizens” are crawling out of the woodwork complaining that Google is on the verge of becoming Big Brother. Some fear that Google has access to too much information. I say that’s Nonsense. If anything, Google doesn’t have access to enough information. In the near future, when Google has access to ALL data, we’ll finally see some really innovative applications and services.
- Google Excuses: While Google Answers ultimately failed, Google Excuses will be a huge hit. The service will offer a team of professional liars on call to help hapless victims come up with plausible excuses once they’re photographed coming out of strip clubs, caught at a day game when they should be at work, or caught smoking after telling their family they’d quit.
- Google Pet Search: In the future Google will supply pet owners with (ad supported) GPS enabled pet collars. If little fido or fluffy should get lost, simply go to Google and search. You’ll find your pet on a map of your neighborhood in no time. Never mind those cat food ads that magically appear on your pets name tag.
- Google How’s My Driving: This mobile application will be a major innovation in social networking. Say you’re on the freeway and a car unexpectedly changes lanes and cuts you off. No problem, just enter the car’s license plate number to search for the mobile phone number of the driver. One click later and you’re on the phone with your new best friend. This application will be extremely viral. While your on the phone swearing at the driver in front of you, the driver behind you will likely be looking up your phone number.
- Google House: The problem with Google maps is that it’s not granular enough. You can see your house, but you can’t see inside your house. In the future, you’ll be able to use Google Sketchup to create 3D models of the inside of your home. You’ll then be able to connect that model with the image of your home on Google maps. This feature will have some obvious applications for realtors, but the best application that Google House will enable is …
- Google Lost and Found: Amazon’s Search Inside lets you search inside a book, Google’s Lost and Found will let you search inside your house. Lost your keys or glasses? Can’t find a book or DVD? Missing a shoe? No problem, once you’ve tagged all of your belongings with Google supplied RFID chips you’ll be able to search your home for your missing belongings.
Clearly, the future will be so much better when Google really does know everything. It’s hard to believe anyone is worried about a loss of privacy.