There's now a way for regular people to contribute to Google's Street View photo library, but it's going to cost a lot. Insta360, a Chinese camera maker, just announced that its Insta360 Pro camera has become the first "Street View Ready" certified camera.
That means the Insta360 Pro meets all the requirements needed for capturing independent Street View scenery.
Google Street View Photography
Google has four main classifications for third-party Street View cameras: auto, mobile, VR, and workflow. Insta360 Pro was rated for auto, meaning that it can be attached on top of a moving vehicle to take 360 pictures of its surroundings — these photos will then be added to Street View after being processed via a combination of the Street View app and Insta360's proprietary photo stitcher.
That sounds cool and all, but how much does the camera cost? Well, prepare to shell out $3,500 for it. That's a pretty steep price for a 360-degree camera, but to be fair, the Insta360 Pro is nothing short of a powerhouse. Not only does it capture 8K footage, but it also takes 360-degree plus 360-degree 3D images.
The camera even captures 120 fps slow motion video, has image stabilization built-in, and is Wi-Fi and 4G-enabled. This is truly a device for content creators, especially those who produce virtual reality content.
Google will allow Insta360 users to control the camera directly via the Street View app. It is getting the ability to shoot 8K 360-degree images at 5 fps via a software update, which is dedicated to capturing Street View images. Insta360 will also ship a USB accessory that attaches to the camera to add GPS details to captured images.
Despite the price, this certainly seems like a way for Google to let content creators contribute to Street View on their own terms, which is pretty cool and inclusive. This could result in Street View featuring more locales and areas that Google's own Street View car wouldn't otherwise travel to.
That is, of course, if users are willing to pay up thousands of dollars to get the camera. Right now, the Insta360 Pro is the only device certified for auto-based Street View photography, but at least three more cameras will be added to that list.
Going forward, Google plans on loaning it to qualified individuals and organizations who might not be able to afford it.
For more information, make sure to check out Google's Street View website.