Kicked off in the pilot program during the first half of the year to start collecting photographs, Google has officially launched an interior version of Street View for buildings. The program sends a Google photographer to a business to take 360-degree photos and allow a potential customer to walk through the store. For instance, a user could navigate through a retail department store to find the exact location of the housewares department and have an idea of exactly where to go once they have arrived. While Google prefers the photo is taken by a professional, business owners can submit photos themselves assuming it meets the criteria Google stipulates to control quality. Typical businesses signing up for the program include gyms, restaurants, hair salons and hotels.
Google is currently setting up photography shoots within business across the United States, but the shoots do not require any special lighting or props to take the required amount of photos for a store tour. Cities enrolled in the program include New York City, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Boston, Austin, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Dallas. Google is also taking submissions from businesses located in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, France and Japan. In order to ensure privacy, Google has asked businesses to make announcements about the photo shoots so people concerned with their picture being taken won’t end up in the shots. If customers or employees appear in the pictures, Google will use post-processing and blur the faces of the individuals.
For the moment, Google isn’t opening up the program to large businesses like Best Buy. While Google claims the rights to any photograph uploaded into the Street View format, business owners have the right to request the removal of any photographs. However, the terms and conditions of the agreement don’t specifically stipulate that Google have to comply with the request.