I think we can all agree that Google Street View is a pretty amazing thing. The ability to see through and operate a perspective nearly anywhere in the world is really one of the most globalizing facets of the internet. Well to make this great ability even cooler (although arguably more disorienting and less useful), programmer Ryan Alexander found a way to synthesize all of the street views from a single spot into one image. So in his program, when you’re “standing” (gstanding?) next to, say, a giant statue of the Buddha, you don’t have to choose between looking at or away from the statue. Alexander’s program uses a photo-blending technique mixed with a digital fish-eye to bring the entire scene into the image at once.
But there are two really cool parts to this program. The first is that, just like with Google Maps, you can “travel” to anywhere Google has been. This gives you the ability to generate countless cool photos like the one above, but it also let’s most of us generate a surprisingly meaningful image: a full perspective view of our own house. It’s your street turned into a sort of miniature planet, one of the best visual metaphors I’ve ever seen for “your world.” Here’s mine:
Now that image probably doesn’t mean much to you, but to me it’s awesome! I recommend opening up this program (did I mention it’s free and web browser based, just like Google Maps?) and putting in your own street address to make your tiny planet.
The second cool part about this program is that it’s actually live interactive, so you can drag the perspective around and distort it through the fish-eye any way you like. That image above is of Taipei 101, but instead of showing it as a planet, I chose a perspective more like a puddle on the ground. And if you aren’t imaginative enough to find cool places yourself (don’t worry, I’m not either), there’s a great feature that takes you to random sites of interest around the world (a Buddha statue, Taipei 101…).
I really can’t say enough good stuff about this thing, but to really see what I’m talking about you’ve got to just head over the the site and play with it yourself. Check it out here!