Oct. 31, 2011 at 11:06 AM ET
Google Street View — the Google Maps feature which provides panoramic views of streets — is getting a little upgrade. It is now able to take you off the streets and inside some buildings.
BBC News reports that an extension of the Google Street View project will provide users with 360-degree views of some building interiors. This means that you'll essentially be able to take a virtual tour of certain places.
Now before you panic and worry about privacy, it's worth noting that participation in this project is entirely voluntary and focuses on businesses such as restaurants, hotels, shops and gyms — and excludes private residences and locations such as law offices or hospitals.
Whew! That settles some fears, right?
Even more reassuring are Google's guidelines for the businesses which opt to participate in the project:
Business owners are told they must warn their customers and employees about the photoshoot before it begins. Google has promised it will blur out or refuse to publish any images that include bystanders.
The photoshoots will produce 360-degree images using fish-eye and wide-angle lenses as well as stills. Business owners are also invited to upload their own pictures.
So how does this all look once all is said and done? You can see for yourself by checking out some of the businesses which already had their interiors photographed — such as Comics Toons N Toys in Tustin, California.
You can find more participating businesses by peeking at Google's page of featured locations or carefully studying the Street View maps of cities in which this project is getting started first.
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