Do you remember that guy who walked all the way through the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago, with a 40-pound Google Trekker strapped to his back? He was helping Google digitize the world as you now regularly see it on Google Maps' Street View.
The vast majority of those maps are recorded with huge, 360-degree cameras on top of Google cars. You may have seen one driving through your neighborhood.
Even if you haven't, you've seen the results. Just type in your home address on Google Maps, then select Street View. You'll see your house and, click on the arrows, it'll show you an incredible, 360-degree view of your street.
It's not just major streets, or the United States, either. Much of the world's roads are now captured in 360-degree images, thanks to Google and its giant cameras.
Of course, technology is always advancing, which for the most part means getting better with each new version. Which is just what's happening with the Ricoh Theta camera, which is rolling out its new, improved Theta S model for about $349, in time for Christmas. If you get one, you can help Google digitize the rest of the world.
Google has been expanding the scope of Street View, to move off roads, to get the perspective of everyday people doing everyday things, like walking down the street, taking a hike up a mountain or scuba diving off the Florida coast.
Google is going to need a lot of help to do that. Which is where you, and your Ricoh Theta S come in. It's a 12-megapixel camera with full HD video, with four times the resolution of the current model. Plus, now there won't be any limit to how much video you can take. The current version taps out at three minutes.
Google is partnering with Ricoh, and asking for your help to digitize your view of the world. To submit your 360-degree images, here's what you do:
Download Google's Street View App, and make sure your phone and the Ricoh camera are both connected to Wi-Fi. On the camera, you'll see a blue camera light up when it's ready. Start taking 360-degree photos of what you're doing. That's it. Your images will automatically be stored in Google Cloud.
Bonus: You don't have to shell out $349 for a Ricoh camera to share your view of the world. Just take photos of what you're doing, and upload them to Google Cloud. Google will patch the images together.