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The next time you are pre-departure wining and dining at Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class Lounge in Heathrow, keep an eye out for staff sporting Google Glass. Since we know that there's nothing fashionable as yet about Google Glass other than its rarity, Virgin Atlantic is dispatching the fresh tech for its functionality.
For the next six weeks, the airline will be providing a seamless customer service experience with the help of Glass. Lounge staff will have the ability to give passengers flight information, weather at their destination, and even translate foreign languages on the go. Of course all that can come from a simple Google Search, but Glass has the cool aspect to it. Eventually, Google Glass would even be able to inform staff of a returning guest's dining preferences or favorite drinks, providing a personalized experience.
There's no question that Google has done incredible work when it comes mapping our world. We can literally log on and take a virtual journey through the streets of places we've never physically been, which is not only a saving grace when it comes to directions and logistics, but it allows potential travelers to get some inspiration to go along with a preview of their destination. In that sense, we have to tip our cap to Google and its infamous "street view" project.
But that being said, it should come as no surprise that Google's actions, both in the U.S. and in other countries, have been highly scrutinized and criticized. Turns out, Google has been collecting much more than intersections and street signs - it's also collecting personal data via open Wifi connections, including emails, passwords, web histories, etc.
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It's been only a couple of years since Google Maps made the leap into airports, mapping the inside of - depending on what kind of a day we're having - either our favorite or absolutely least favorite places in the world. Since then the Mountain View kids have not only expanded their airport offerings, but have even gone inside actual airplanes 'waiting' on the tarmac. What's left to do?
Do more and go bigger, obviously. TechCrunch reports that Gatwick Airport has become the newest location to receive Google's 360 degree panoramic Street View treatment. The UK airport - the second busiest in the country - is now apparently open to virtual touring. It only required stitching together 2,000 overlapping photos, matching the results to the airport's actual layout, and uploading everything. Piece of cake.
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Yes, another post about about Google Street View adding another picturesque part of the world to its ever-increasing inventory of picturesque parts of the world. These are coming at the pace of once a month now: in August it was Peru and then last month it was Swaziland We'll stop posting them when they stop being neat. So not for a while, no.
This month it's Iceland. According to the News Of Iceland, Google spent the summer mapping out areas in and around Reykjavík, and got around to activating the service inside the country in the last few days. The creatively-named news outlet even has a map showing all the roads where you can zoom in and have a look around. Or you can just follow the instructions below, if you want to look around yourself.
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Travel news so fresh it hasn't even hit Wikipedia yet, is what we're providing you guys with today. We know because we were doing background reading on this story about the introduction of Google Street View to Swaziland, and we checked the "Google Street View in Africa" Wikipedia page, and it says that Street View "has been planned for Swaziland."
The shot above - of Swazi beehive huts at the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary - is pretty good evidence that it's much more than planned for Swaziland. The African country has become the fourth on the continent to get Street View, and virtual travelers can now move around the parts of the country. Look how far ahead of the curve you are now that you've read and/or are reading this story!
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We’ve seen Alaska Airlines try a whole bunch of different things and ideas, as the carrier seems quick to try out new strategies to better their airline. Just recently they’ve been turning around their planes quicker, as they’ve started to send passengers off the plane from both the front door and the back door. Also, let’s not forget their slimmer seats, in-flight power, and other improvements and upgrades to their airplane insides. Well now it looks like they’re adding yet another feature, as they’re embracing Google Wallet.
If you’re not familiar with Google Wallet it basically allows you to beam funds over to friends, family, or your bookie right through your mobile device—no need to stop to the ATM. It also gives you the capability to store traditional cards and other wallet clogging papers right within your phone, and that’s where Alaska Airlines come into the picture.
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Last March we told you about one of the newer and more creative Google Street View efforts, which had the Mountain View giant mapping towns and cities in Japan that had been abandonedand were now functionally inaccessiblebecause of the Fukushima disaster. We always knew the radiation-soaked areas were going to be off-limits for a long time, but in recent days new readings have transformed "a long time" into "a very, very, very long time." This is all by way of saying that if you want to "visit" those areas, you're going to have to do it over the Internet.
Now comes word via the Google Maps blog that you can see more of those areas than ever before. The blog postwhich formally announced the addition of 17 cities within the hazard zonebegins by linking to information about the project itself.
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Another day, another advance for Google Maps. We wrapped up last week by telling you about how Street View had added another round of global zoos to their picture galleries, providing prospective travelers with the ability to scope out destinations filled with cute things without setting foot outside a living room.
The specific locationszoos, museums, shops, the inside of airplanesare so shiny that sometimes people forget just have impressive regular old Google Street View has become. News came out last week that the company had added Peru to the list of nations where computer users can digitally swoop in and take a look around. This brings the number of countries where Street View is available to fifty-one.
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The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has been around for a quarter of a century, cares for roughly 30% of the world's panda bears, has facilitated some 125 panda births, and is in China. That last bit has posed a problem for casual and even regular travelers, because it turns out that planning and executing a trip to China is a bit of a thing.
Logically, then, Google just announced that it's adding the grounds to its ever-expanding list of zoos that are on Street View. Also on the list is our beloved San Diego Zoo, as well as a dozen other zoos across the world. There's actually a full list of zoos that have been added over at the Google Maps blog post about the Chengdu addition.
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It's no secret that Google has high ambitions for Street View. In March the company expanded its offerings across Eastern Europe, and for the first time users got the opportunity to walk through Bulgaria, plus some 200 Russian cities. Then a few weeks ago we told you about new walkthroughs being built into Street View that will allow users to meander through rain forests, beaches, and maybe even a volcano.
Then news came this week that Google is letting users inside the insanely decadent Emirates Airbus A380. You start off on the concourse at Dubai International Airport. From there you get the option to step inside the plane. Here is the economy "bus with wings" section of the plane. Here are the steps you take if you're lucky enough not to be sitting there. And here is the bar you get to avail yourself of once you're upstairs. It's kind of amazing, the things we can do.
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From the Grand Canyon to abandoned spots over in Japan, the Google Maps team has certainly been busy lately. At this rate the folks at Google are going to have the whole darn world mapped out with their Street View technology by the end of the year.
This week it’s Florida getting the special treatment, as once again the team is on the move to get a closer look at the area. Using Google’s Street View Trekker technology, a group from the state’s tourism board will start capturing a view of over 800 miles of shoreline and beaches.
If the vacation funds are running a little low this summer there’s always the option to just sit back and let Google show you a good time. We’re talking about their Street View capabilities, as it looks like the walkthrough options are coming to a few new spots.
Up first is Hawaii, as the fancy technology is making its way to the 50th state to capture and grab a first person look of all the islands have to offer. The Big Island will be the first of the chain to get the Street View treatment, as Google will be handing off some of their gadgets and technology to a local company to capture this and that from different trails and treks across the island. Expect a look at rainforests, some beaches, and maybe even a volcano, but we’re pretty sure that the umbrella drinks won’t be included in this view—too bad.