RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Google's Street View panoramic images of streets are moving indoors. The search engine is now posting panoramic views of the interiors of businesses.
You probably remember when Google sent vans to drive through every street around town, taking pictures of the outside of businesses and homes. Now you'll be able to see inside some businesses with the same panoramic technology.
One of the first local businesses to take part is Can Can Brasserie in Carytown.
"It's very interactive," said photographer Dan Iott, who photographed Can Can. "It engages customers. They can basically walk through your store and get a first hand view of it as if they were actually there."
Google trains photographers, like Iott of Dan Iott Photography, to use the panoramic technology. Iott took 360-degree images from several points inside Can Can. Then Google seamlessly matched up the images. Now you can look up and down, turn, and virtually move through the restaurant. You can even move out the front door to the attached Google Street View.
These business interiors will appear on Google Searches, Google Maps, and Google+ Local.
Said Iott, "When someone's searching for a place to eat, or a place to have their hair done, when they're searching, when they see these additional photos with the tour in their search results, there's an appeal there."
Iott also expects it to appeal to the types of businesses where the interior helps to attract customers. "I think restaurants, spas, gift shops, women's clothing stores."
Can Can Brasserie manager Meg Lawler told us, "I think it's a great advantage to any business to be able to showcase themselves."
She told us Can Can jumped at the idea. "The owner spent a vast amount of time cultivating and getting the interior just as he'd like it to be."
Business owners can choose what they want, or don't want, to be photographed, the businesses retain ownership of the images, and they can link the business website to the panoramic images. The photographers have to be Google approved and set their own prices. Iott estimates it will cost a business between $200 to $600. Google then hosts the images for free, hoping to attract curious browsers.
Said Iott, "What I'm looking to do is create more of an experience than a photograph or a picture."
Google launched its Business Photos in some large cities. The project has just started in Richmond. Google says legal, medical, corporate, religious, and large chain businesses will not be included.