Google Maps is rolling out a new immersive view feature, using AI and augmented reality (AR) technology to improve user experience. The update was released on 8 February in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo, with other cities eyed for the launch in the coming months, including Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence and Venice.
“Using advances in AI and computer vision, immersive view fuses billions of Street View and aerial images to create a rich, digital model of the world. And it layers helpful information on top like the weather, traffic, and how busy a place is”, VP and General Manager Chris Phillips revealed in a blog post.
Immersive view is an entirely new way to explore a place — letting you feel like you’re right there, even before you visit.Chris Phillips, Google VP and General Manager
With the new feature, users can not only get a better view of a building’s layout, but they can also see what the weather will be like at that location throughout the day using a scroll on the bottom of their screens. The same glider also shows what the busiest periods are. Moreover, users can explore what the inside of certain locations look like, to see ” if a bar’s moody lighting is the right vibe for a date night or if the views at a cafe make it the ideal spot for lunch with friends”.
To create these true-to-life scenes, Google uses neural radiance fields (NeRF), an advanced AI technique that transforms ordinary pictures into 3D representations. “With NeRF, we can accurately recreate the full context of a place including its lighting, the texture of materials and what’s in the background”, Phillips explained.
Besides the immersive view, Google Maps is also realising a “search with Live View” feature. This was recently launched in London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo, with Barcelona, Dublin and Madrid to receive the update in the coming months.
Search with Live View uses AI and augmented reality to help users find things around them, like ATMs, restaurants, parks and transit stations, in real time on the street just by lifting their phone and pointing the camera around. Information such as opening times, ratings and usual busy periods then appear on the screen.