Google to map remote areas next year

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Nov 25, 2013 - Page 13

A number of hard-to-reach scenic spots in Taiwan are likely to be made available on Google Inc’s mapping service next year as the US-based search engine continues to photograph these locations with its special “Trekker” camera.

Earlier this year, Google brought its Trekker — a wearable backpack outfitted with a camera system on top — to Taiwan to shoot images of scenic spots that the company’s devices previously had a hard time reaching by car, trolley or bicycle.

These images are expected to be released in Taiwan next year “before a certain holiday or festival” to help promote local tourism, said Cynthia Wei, manager of Google Street View Great China and Southeast Asia, in a recent interview with CNA.

While the Trekker project is going smoothly in Taiwan and more forest footpaths have been added, it is still taking at least three to four months to shoot images of a single location and to process the images, she said.

Google has taken pictures of more than 10 remote scenic sites in Taiwan with its Trekker backpack camera, Wei said, without specifying the number or location of the sites. The wearable backpack is outfitted with a camera system, and its portability enables operators to gather images while maneuvering through tight, narrow spaces or locations reachable only by foot, according to Google’s Web site.

The Trekker is operated by an Android device and consists of 15 lenses angled in different directions, so that images can be stitched together into 360-degree panoramic views, which will be featured on the Google Maps services, the company said. Taiwan is the second Asia-Pacific country in which Google has started a Street View Trekker project, after a similar launch in Japan last year.