Photography, and in recent years digital photography and video, has come to assume a central focus in our lives. It is possible to argue that the semiotic trope of our time is the “mobile phone.” A device combining utility, mobility, communication, playback, and significantly; video on demand.
Google Maps opened a program in 2012 to extend street view inside businesses. The program targeted photographers in developing 360° interior views, a logical extension to Street View. The key point is that the company targeted photographers, specifically elite photographers, and the published results are viewed online (for free) on Google Maps.
Photographers are technically adept, understanding lenses, light, exposure, the right kit and the right locations through experience and training. Grounded in reality, they strive for idealized experience.
Digital division is not a static point, but a widening river between those who can transfer information quickly and the rest. Not defined by the ability to communicate images over the ether, but by the access a user has to convey imagistic content – communicating more depth and value than script, ever faster and more efficiently.
The tool maker for the visual mobile user, those who build mobile web presence, communicate digital imagery online and burnish online reputations, could see the utility function. Business View adds a “tangible” to a virtual arsenal; a “real” location on which to build an identity, sell product and communicate visual cues. The possibility to interact with an image, to map information onto a visualized location in real time, and conversely, to extract information from “hot spots” within the view, holds absolute business value, as well as SEO dark matter.
The smart digital marketing guys already know that Business View is a must have, not just a “nice to have” tool. Free at the point of use, free to develop and free for resellers, Google Maps Business View gives plenty “bang for buck.”
The interesting event that has occurred is that the mobile generation saw the gap and bridged it effortlessly, without a ripple. Photographers have became web marketers and digital designers became photographers. The mapmakers of the virtual world have assumed their station. There is no subjective and objective divide, there is immersive experience.
Postscript July 22, 2017 : In the interim period the Google Maps Business View VR program has undergone a significant restructuring process. Business view was placed under a wider banner covering all “Views” – significantly diluting the novelty, or “wow” factor.
In April 2017 some of its key features were depreciated (“See Inside” box on Google Search) and the removal of the free online editing software (API transferred to selected third parties). There has also been a widening interest in VR from Facebook (and others), which has deepened competition, draining key resources and support staff from this particular silo. The result is that the overall focus on business specific immersive Google VR within Maps and Search has evaporated (for now). This is not uncommon in Google projects …stay tuned to this channel though. Game’s not over yet!
Virtual Reality – “The Map is Not the Territory” Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950) …People are too kind to comment on my temporal timewarping in the title 😉
Originally posted on Linkedin (April 2015)
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com and Magritte