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Show HN: Instant Google Street View (qsview.com)
412 points by kirchhoff on Nov 16, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 101 comments

This project does something subtle, yet amazing with perception, including one's perception of technology. We've had Street View for half a decade now; the novelty of the fact that you can pull up an instant 360-degree panorama for a significant percentage of street addresses in the developed world has worn off.

Yet this makes it new again – I found myself laughing like a child as I slowed down my typing, watching my screen be transported to a completely new location with each keystroke. It made me appreciate anew the technology at work, while also appreciating the daftness of it all, jumping around the world en route to my destination as if propelled by some sort of Douglas Adams-style teleporter.

Fantastic work.

Contrary to what some of the commenters said about this being non-useful and just novelty, I think this brings forward one of the best features of Google Maps by cutting out a lot of (potentially frustrating) steps in the UX. Here’s the typical flow for finding street view when searching on maps.google.com:

1. Submit search query 2. Review results list 3. Repeat 1-2 in case user did not find their intended target 4a. Drag the street view marker onto the map OR 4b+5. Click “more” from the results list, then Street view

Instant Google Street View reduces this to just one easy step, and makes it much more fun along the way.

I think the benefit of this is similar to the benefit of Google’s instant search results - making the UX fast, efficient, and fun to discover what you’re looking for. The creator of this should definite consider expanding this to also include street view and satellite view (surprised Google hasn’t done this already).

And I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a call from Google soon for an interview… either for a job offer or a acqui-hire.

Cheers, nicely done.

You are right, although IMO that benefit comes more from cutting out the in-between steps, rather than the "instant" quality of this application. What I mean is, cutting out all those steps so you just type the address (with autocomplete/suggestions) and immediately see the streetview, is really really great. But--and I realize I might be in a minority here--they didn't need to cut out the final step, which is to press enter to submit :) But then, I've always found that feature in Google Instant very distracting, and go to lengths to disable it for myself.

Either way, that's a very keen observation, there's quite a few steps to go from an address to a streetview in the current form of Google Maps and this app does solve that.

Upvoted for the lyricism and poetic nature of your comment; I'm not very receptive to the magic (or usefulness) of this, but your comment made it worthwhile! ;-)

Novelty hasnt worn off for me!

Agreed, street view has always amazed me. But what this does differently, which is very useful, is that it gives me the ability to download a large image quickly of a location.

I can use this for work and it removes some friction from my workflow.

Thanks for sharing!

Well this is freaky, I typed in "white house" and I got an INTERNAL tour of the white house. Awesome.

Also try "google campus".

What's interesting is the real google streetview needs adobe flash to run, this works with flash disabled.

That's not true. Real Google Street View runs without Flash if you enable WebGL.

I am using Firefox 17 with webgl, when I am in google street view it gives me

To use street view, you need Adobe Flash Player version 10 or newer. Get the latest Flash Player.

When I try to go to http://maps.google.com/maps?vector=1 to enable webgl it goes into an endless loop.

This page might explain why: http://support.google.com/maps/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answe...

Some low-end integrated GPUs (like the Intel GMA 3100 and 3150) are not compatible

This isn't using either Flash or WebGL, though. It's a pure JS tiling solution, similar to classic Google Maps, but with a Mercator-style 3D-to-2D projection.

> What's interesting is the real google streetview needs adobe flash to run, this works with flash disabled.

Since they've started targeting mobile browsers, they've switched in some places to the projection here (which uses a flat projection that is just translated), which is implemented in straight HTML + JS. In other words, this is official Google StreetView too, just their new embeddable viewer.

Haha I just did the same thing except I typed 1600 Pennsylvania ave then I was taken inside the lobby looking at a picture of Bill Clinton.

The tour of the white house was pretty interesting. If you typed in "oval offi" it takes you to some gold room that I don't recognize, and if you step outside, there's a big portrait of Hillary Clinton. Do the first ladies all have their portraits?

Ahem, you mean the Secretary of State, arguably most important cabinet position of the white house?

Wait, your resume says you're from North Carolina and you went to Case Western. You should really know this.

For the same query I got "White House, TN". Surprising (to me) amount of huge trucks, and quite uninteresting white house.

Same here. I had to refine my search: "white house, washington"

"the white house" also works.

There are a bunch more cool ones: golden gate bridge, bay bridge, brooklyn bridge, even lincoln tunnel!

This is too much fun :)

I typed in google and ended up in a store somewhere.

This is way too addicting. I've been typing in addresses one letter at a time, just to see what pops up: a beautiful metro station in Saint Petersburg, the graffitied walls surrounding an airport in Brazil, a neighborhood in South Africa, a wooded street in suburban North Carolina, a deserted country road in rural Iowa, the entrance to a gated community in Texas, and finally, my house. What a fun way to explore. Great work!

The feeling of seeing a sequence of random, unfamiliar locations, followed all of a sudden by a familiar street is really amazing. Especially if you type in the address of a street you haven't lived on for a long time.

is it using request ip to provide context? i typed in "europa 2189" and see my own appt in santiago, which is disturbingly impressive...

I'm in the UK, and typing that also gave me an apartment block in Santiago, so I'd say no.

huh, thanks. i never thought my address was so exclusive.

(i was once asked to give my address here, started with 'europa', and got the reply 'no, your address here in chile'...)

Worth mentioning also is Ryan Alexander's excellent Streetview Stereographic: http://notlion.github.com/streetview-stereographic/

(Try hitting the plus to edit the shader on the left)

This is great! If you zoom with the mouse wheel you can make a "tiny planet" type image. for ex: http://notlion.github.com/streetview-stereographic/#o=-.141,...

I knew what this was coming in and still I was impressed. Nice job.

It's been awhile since I've actually used GSV...the images seem much higher-res than I remember.

This is a pretty surreal experience. I really enjoy typing in an address and seeing other towns and cities flash before my eyes. I love the app, but I almost think the sequence of random street views is more enjoyable.

There's also a random button which shows random views from within the current map.

The existence of which makes me wish there was a global random button.

You can zoom the map out to cover any area you like, including the whole world!

as playhard pointed out: http://mapcrunch.com.

Some places you might find interesting:

scott's hut

shackleton's hut

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Thanks for the Shrine suggestion! It really looks very interesting.

This is the more familiar view (when the tide isn't out) : http://qsview.com/89vp2zksffdz80tzoqz1ap

That is a very nice view.

I have always wanted to visit Japan, but haven't find the time and the money to do it, but I hope I'll someday.

Another cool one: Osaka aquarium. You go straight from the sky above the Osaka airport to staring at huge fish.

Taj mahal hotel bombay is also cool

i almost expected tags on those bottles onMouseOver.

I wanted to be all "yeah, whatever" about this, but it's fantastic. Seeing it load places from all over the world as you type in an address, and seeing how much the streets look exactly like what you might expect, is fascinating. Cool hack indeed!

Meta: as a test, I tried looking for the street where I live. I never tried to visit my street before. As the Street view rendered the destination, I was nearly shocked: it happens that the moment the Google car was cruising the street there also was a funeral right there. With a poor dead guy in the coffin and a procession. Doesn't Google filter such things out? Not that I insist, but this is a really sad experience. I'd prefer this part of the street cut our from GSV completely. Recommending using Street view to friends from my neighborhood is going to be hard.

My dream is a smooth FPS like street view. Right now it's so disjointed and lagged. Street view could be so much more. I know microsoft had some technology to put photos from different angles together..

Nice! Also try http://mapcrunch.com. It takes you to random places! They have been live for 2 years!

Actually, I'm also the creator of MapCrunch.

ah! Good job. Nick?

Yes. You can tell by the about box - I lazily use the same style for every project!

:) Ramakanth here. We conversed in Google plus if you can remember.

Even though lots of people have praised the creator, I couldn't leave without saying well done :). This is absolutely fantastic work. There is something amazing about being able to jump across the world a keystroke at a time. I loved the attention to detail with the "Share", "Download" links... this is going to come handy during house-hunting time :).

I'm curious, is there any kind of ranking being done on the candidates for an imprecise address? Any kind of image analysis to determine which ones are the more 'interesting'?

Asking because it seemed to me that when the address is imprecise, it's mostly more prominent locations that are being shown.

[later edit] It's probably just using GMaps' suggest feature I guess?

How long before we have a real time view of the world - with all the millions of smart phones, cameras, public security cameras all pushing data to the web? Kind of feel like those Circle/Social cam guys had something there - a real time distributed camera.

There's a startup up there - but maybe instagram has already done it :D

download lightt: its like seeing through other peoples eyes.


How come this is so much faster than Google's own Street View interface? I feel like whether I use Flash or WebGL, Street View always feels a bit clunky and laggy, while here it's really instant.

I suppose one of the things that helps is that this doesn't do the "zoom" effect that looks ugly and slows you down navigating.

Self reply to mention that one reason it feels so "instant" is that in many cases, it has already auto-completed and started displaying your destination before you finish typing. For instance, I typed "golden gate bridge", and probably by the time I had typed "golden ga" it could start loading, and everything was loaded by the time I finished typing "bridge."

Also, what panoramic viewer is this? Is this something provided by Google, something off the shelf, or something custom written by them?

It is using the standard Google Maps API (version 3).

The experimental version (&v=3.exp) of it, to be precise.

This made me think of how awesome it would be to be teleported to a random place in the world like this, just walking on the street. You wouldn't know where at first, and you'd have 24 hours before being transported to a new location. <Any script writers out there?>

Inspired by YouTube Instant? http://ytinstant.com

Cool but indexing is off and different fron Google results, strangely. In Seattle, where streets are mapped by compass rose I tyoed in # N. # St., which should mean North, got the results for NE. Great concept, just wish it mirrored Google's results.

Any idea why typing in 568 Broadway NY gives you an inside view of the Armani Exchange store across the street from the actual correct address? This works on both qsview and showmystreet...so I assume there's an error in the Google database.

The Street View lookup seems to favour interior views - sometimes this works well (search for "tate modern"), and other times not..

This is totally awesome.

BTW, I've been meaning to ask for a while though: what sort of algorithm is running that detects edges and orientation so when the mouse is moved, the small white circle or quadrilateral seems to touch the objects in the image?

The Street View cars have LIDAR which which gives them distance data. They must be constructing a 3D model from this data.

Are you sure? How do you know it is not an image processing/edge detection algorithm running? If they were indeed constructing a 3d-model, I'd be interested in seeing it, even if it is a low-poly approximation...

I didn't have the reference handy when I posted, but here is some info about how they use the lasers to make the 3D model:


This is really quite wonderful. For a while now, I've wanted to hack together a system for rapidly flipping through a set of street views based on a list of locations I provide. This seems like a great start. Is any of the code open source?

I didn't realize that Google didn't bother to look at my cul de sac for street view. I don't think I'm too sad about that.

Regarding TFA, well done. Though it's a little weird to look at my back door from a street over while typing in my address.

Nice! I added this one to my favorites. As I type it often finds an address elsewhere, until the address is completed, but it's still easier to get to the desired street view than in Google Maps. I even enjoy the extra views.

Really neat. Something's weird with the shortcut links. I get http://qsview.com/7pd0rz6j7bdz-y4zokz1ap from the share icon but it 404s.

That's strange as the generated links are only designed to contain alphanumeric characters - the link didn't work because the regex rejected the hyphen.

I've changed it now - does the link correspond to the correct location? If not, please can you let me know the address which generated this link?


This is really awesome. It feels snappier then the Google maps interface for street view. Curious about the street view API. Do you have to pay for it after a certain usage threshold ?

It would seem so, but the limit is quite generous and you only have to pay if you exceed it for a prolonged period of time.

Tried some random views and this is where I reached! Beautiful.


This is particularly nice for quickly screening potential real estate buys. A good complement in a second browser window next to trulia/zillow.

I'm surprised how fast it is to switch, seems the integration in maps.google.com is a bit taxing .. anyway great idea and realization.

Unfortunately it doesn't work on the iphone because the input field doesn't call up the keyboard. Probably pretty easy to fix this.

I have no iOS device to test unfortunately - difficult to debug!

I love that "news" randomly brings up a kebab :)

Cool. http://showmystreet.com/ has been doing this for a couple of years.

Works in iPhone , I am impressed

This is the first time I wished I can have a fat pipe like Kansas residents can.

I'd love to read a post about both the inspiration and making of this project.

Really well executed. I was ready to be not impressed and was blown away.

Apparently my internet is too slow to enjoy this, it's not "instant" :(

developer version of qsview.com :) http://webshell.io/prototype/OWFiO/2 and don't forget to run it!

It looks like it's in Javascript, not Flash as usually. Cool!

Undoubtedly one of the coolest things I've seen in 2012.

You need to get out more!

Once I got to my suburb. Wow that's my car. Very smooth.

For maximum effect try a UK or Canadian postcode.

This is absolutely phenomenal! Blows my mind!

The view of "mozilla" gave me the chills.

Too bad it does not produce an URL to share with location built in. Or am I missing something?

There is a share button on the top right corner that gives you a short qview-based URL.

here's a cool one: Wailing Wall

Just messing around...

"A": Nothing

"AB": Fine

"ABC": Fine

"ABCD": Where am I?

completely wonderful!

awesome !

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