Google Maps has a great new feature that shows 3D photo tours for more than 15,000 landmarks using the images submitted by Panoramio and Picasa Web users. Google displays an image preview next to the local search results that have photo tours, so it’s easy to find them. Here are some examples: La Sagrada Familia, La Tour Eiffel, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Hungarian State Opera House, Trevi Fountain. The feature uses WebGL, so it only works in Chrome, Firefox and Safari (where it’s disabled by default).
“To produce these photo tours, we use advanced computer vision techniques to create a 3D experience from public, user-contributed Picasa and Panaromio photos. We start by finding clusters of overlapping photos around major landmarks. From the photos, our system derives the 3D shape of each landmark and computes the location and orientation of each photo. Google Maps then selects a path through the best images, and adds 3D transitions to seamlessly guide you from photo to photo as if you’re literally flying around the landmark and viewing it from different perspectives,” explains Google.