Google Patents Terrain Image Capturing Walking Sticks

When it comes to Street View, Google has created something special. The company has provided ground-level imagery of highways and byways across a huge portion of the motorized world, enabling anyone with a Web browser and an Internet connection to see what the locals see while driving. It's an impressive feat, and a daunting task to map out. But in some areas, Google has longed to provide Street View imagery in places where motorcars aren't allowed. For those scenarios, it has used a backpack-type apparatus that straps onto a human test subject. At the top is an array of cameras and a logging device, which takes imagery as the person walks, stiches it all together, and readies it for publishing.

Places like the Galápagos Islands and Grand Canyon have been mapped out in such a way, not to mention a great many hiking trails around the world. In order to keep the Trail Views coming, Google has seemingly patented the idea. A recently-granted patent, awarded to Google in the United States, describes the camera-equipped walking sticks that are presently being worn. In fact, the patent describes an actual stick for the future, in the event that Google can shrink the technology being used. It monitors geo-location data and captures imagery, which in theory would eventually be published to the Web.

It may sound crazy, but we'd love it if Google were able to get a production model ready at some point. If it's investing production resources on Glass, surely it could do the same here. Imagine being able to map out places of thousands of walkers at once; suddenly, the global mapping task would seem a lot less daunting.