As Google busily gobbles up the world’s data you may not yet have noticed a change in its Maps program that allows anyone to create immersive 360° images enabled by its Streetview technology. (UPDATE: You can also do this easily now with a Ricoh Theta S camera that shoots in 360º. Check out my post on VR here.)
Here’s one I did for a restaurant in Montreal, The Monkland Tavern, as well as a much larger one for the Gold Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
While professional photographers like me can still work with fish eye lenses, or high-priced spherical cameras (and you can hire me to shoot your venue for you), you can get pretty decent quality photospheres (as Google calls these panoramic images sewn seamlessly together) using just your smartphone and Google’s Streetview App on Android or for your iPhone.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Download the app.
- Review the Tips section of the app
- Start shooting!
To get good results you’ll need a little bit of practice. Try starting outdoors (once you get the hang of it you can try an indoor space but it’s easier to get it right outdoors on the first try).
Also remember to hold the phone close to your face and shoot vertically
Finally, be sure you shoot a complete set of images rotating in a circle several times to cover a full sphere
Once you’ve created your photosphere you can save it to your camera roll and then decide if you want to publish it directly to Google Maps. The default option is set to private so you don’t have to worry if you don’t like the look of your photosphere or captured any indiscreet imagery you do not want to make public.
If you do want to publish it, just tag it, provide a brief description and hit publish. You can learn more about how to use the app here or within the app itself.
Currently photospheres contributed to Google Maps this way lack the connectivity that professionals in the Trusted Photographer Program can enable using an access restricted photosphere editor. If you want to offer a full virtual tour your site visitors can virtually walk through you’ll still want to work with a professional, but if you are just looking for the free option that provides good value and showcases your interior or exterior spaces in its full 360° splendour, then download the app and give it a whirl.