Since Google Street View was first unveiled near five years ago, it has revolutionized the world of online roadmaps and helped change the way we see the world -- but now the tech giant has its eyes set well below the water. Thanks to the help of panoramic imaging cameras, soon it will be possible to explore the ocean's most scenic places, such as the Great Barrier Reef, all without having to leave the house -- or even put on pants.
As part of a collaborative effort between Australia's University of Queensland and digital mapping aficionado Google, the haunting and imperiled world's largest coral reef system will be as accessable as ever -- presented online as a 360 view of an ecosystem so few ever have the change to see themselves.
"For the first time in history, we have the technology available to broadcast the findings of an expedition through Google. Millions of people will be able to experience the life, the science and the magic that exists under the surface of our oceans," said chief author, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, via New Scientist
Called the Catlin Seaview Survey, the project is a joint venture between Google, the University of Queensland and their sponsor, a multinational insurance firm called the Catlin Group. Part science project and part public outreach, the aim is to learn as much as possible about the reef's state of health from a panoramic underwater photographic and video survey – and let the rest of us enjoy the reef's untrammelled beauty online.
Although the project is set to begin in September, a preview of what to expect from SeaView has already been released.