Check out Google’s latest gadget: the Street View Trekker! It’s a backpack-mounted, panorama grabbing camera that will be used to map off-road trails. The device runs on two lithium batteries for an entire day and weighs under 40 pounds. Luc Vincent, the Engineering director, has already taken it skiing and has hopes of taking it to the Grand Canyon, Venice, and numerous other places in the future. With Google Earth, it will allow people to take virtual of tours of places they may never have the endurance, ability, or time to see. Google is also working towards having all of their maps offline, so they can be accessed even when a device is out of range for 3g or Wifi service.[see_also]
I have mixed feelings about the Trekker. With hopes of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail one day, I would feel a little encroached upon if a guy came hiking past me with the Trekker strapped to his back; but on the other hand, I would be one of the first to use the maps to help me navigate the trail. Can you imagine if you strapped this gadget on the back of Andrew Skurka (“one of the best traveled and fastest hikers on the planet”? He could map the entire 2,650 miles of the PCT within 4 months.
Although carrying around 40 pounds of gear would certainly slow someone down and be a nightmare for an ultra light backpacker, I would gladly take the abuse and hike the PCT to take one for the Google team! If anyone out there can get me in touch with Luc Vincent, I’d love to volunteer for this mapping task. I even have experience along with one of our other writers, Benjamin Starr, taking pictures for Google maps (we chose Hawaii) as part of a project for Google Local Business Referrals. So Mr. Vincent, if you’re out there, I’d love to be your Street View Trekker guinea pig!