Google has just announced a brand new initiative that sounds mighty ambitious: heading to the Amazon. The service already allows folks to hike around Stonehenge or even ski down Whistler’s slopes, all without leaving home. Soon, users will be able to float down the Amazon and Rio Negro Rivers of northwest Brazil and experience some of the most remote and biodiverse areas in the world.
According to Google
, members of their Brazil and U.S. Street View and Google Earth Outreach teams are currently in the Amazon rainforest using our Street View technology to capture images of the river, surrounding forests and adjacent river communities. In partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), the local non-profit conservation organization that invited the search giant into the area, they’re training some of FAS’s representatives on the imagery collection process and leaving some of our equipment behind for them to continue the work. By teaching locals how to operate these tools, they can continue sharing their points of view, culture and ways of life with audiences across the globe.
It's a great concept, and it's one that Google hopes to continue on in even more remote corners of the globe. Just imagine what this kind of work means for geography lessons for children of the future. Textbooks are already outdated, but this proves it; there may eventually be a case where students just step into an augmented reality world in order to get a 360 view of some of Earth's most wild places. In this first phase of the project, the Google and FAS teams will visit and capture imagery from a 50km section of the Rio Negro River, extending from the Tumbira community near Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas, to the Terra Preta community. Then just process the imagery of the river and the communities as usual, stitching the still photos into 360-degree panoramas.
And to think, Google was just a wee little search company in the 90s.