Google Acquires Digisfera to Make Street View Better

The tech giant is looking to continuously improve its products, and the acquisition of 360-degree photography startup Digisfera suggests that Street View will become better in the foreseeable future.

Founded in January 2011 by António Cabral and his son Manuel Cabral, the Portuguese startup focuses on panoramic images. Google is mainly interested in one of the two sets of tools developed by Digisfera, specifically Marzipano (which truth be told, really sounds like an Android version). Some of Digisfera’s past work, which surely caught Google’s eye, were the large-size panorama of the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, during the 2014 World Cup and a 360-degree view of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the US president.

One of the immediate consequences of the acquisition is the discontinuation of PanoTag, DigiSfera’s other tool, which enabled photographers to tag their panoramas, and thus increase their potential of going viral on social networks. The PanoTag servers will remain operational until October 31.

Marzipano, on the other hand, allows photographers to create virtual tours via a set of panoramas. Most importantly, the virtual tour can be exported as a web application. “In the coming weeks,” Google intends to open-source Marzipano, a move that “will benefit the panoramic photography community,” according to Digisfera.

The startup’s engineers will be working on Street View, which really was the entire point of the acquisition, but it is currently unknown whether the two founders will join Google, as well. Other details pertaining to this transaction, such as the acquisition price, are currently unknown, mainly because Google has declined to comment them.

Here is Digisfera’s announcement:

“We’re excited to share that Digisfera is joining Google. We started Digisfera almost five years ago and have had the opportunity to work in many interesting projects involving 360º photography over the years. We’re excited to join the Street View team at Google to continue building great experiences using 360° photography.

As we move on to our next adventure, it will no longer be possible for us to keep developing PanoTag, so it is being discontinued. We are planning to open-source our Marzipano viewer in the coming weeks and hope this will benefit the panoramic photography community.

Thank you to all of our customers and friends who have supported us along the way!”

Between this and the continuous development of Mountainview’s driverless car, it’s getting clear that Google Maps has a very bright future ahead. If only offline turn-by-turn navigation was implemented earlier.

Google’s acquisition of Digisfera may also have an impact on the tech giant’s desire to bring Street View photography into the classroom via virtual field trips. This acquisition didn’t pass unnoticed, and some feel that Google should spend more time and money on making their Earth and Maps 3D views better, instead of focusing on 360-degree virtual tours for Street View.

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[via VentureBeat | International Business Times]