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Google Maps lets you visit landmarks from the comfort of your home

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Google has introduced a new feature for its fancy maps called photo tours, which means you can wander round some of the world's most famous landmarks without moving an inch.

We all know that Google Maps is pretty incredible (apart from when we lose 3G reception and have NO CLUE where we are) and Street View, also known as "taking the yellow man in", is really handy, as it allows you to see what an area looks like up close. However, it often falls short if you're wanting to experience some of the world's biggest, fanciest landmarks, which is why Google will be rolling out its brand new set of photo tours over the next few days.

These fancy photo tours will guide you through areas using a series of 3D photos, and at the moment there are more than 15,000 available, walking you around sites of interest across the globe.

To get started with photo tours, you can search for a place and the left panel will tell you if you can take a photo tour of it. Or, you can click on a landmark's label to see if a tour is available.

The interesting thing about the photo tours is that Google's funny little vans haven't been collecting the photos together, but instead it's been sneakily using your photos from the likes of Picasa and Panoramio to make the tours complete.

Steve Seitz, a Software Engineer at Google, said:

"We start by finding clusters of overlapping photos around major landmarks.

"From the photos, our system derives the 3D shape of each landmark and computes the location and orientation of each photo. Google Maps then selects a path through the best images, and adds 3D transitions to seamlessly guide you from photo to photo as if you're literally flying around the landmark and viewing it from different perspectives."

But don't worry about your photos being used against your will, all of them will be attributed to their original contributor and Google will only use those that are set to public.

The photo tours will be an incredible opportunity for people from all over the world to see some of the most famous landmarks up close, just don't be tempted to sit in and click your way through 15,000 sites of interest instead of actually going to see any of them in real life.

Check out all of the available photo tours here.

[Via The Next Web]

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