back to article Google adds a sense of history to Street View with archive footage

Google is adding historical images to its Street View image library so that users can step backwards and forwards through time and track development from when the Chocolate Factory cameras cars last rolled by. "If you’ve ever dreamt of being a time traveler like Doc Brown, now’s your chance," wrote Vinay Shet, Google Street …


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  1. DJV Silver badge


    They've also re-run the algorithm that fuzzes out car number plates and faces. It's managed to completely obscure my number plate on the 2008 photo (originally one letter could just be made out), several bricks on the wall beside my front door (nowhere near the house number) and a bit of the tree in the neighbour across the road's garden! It HASN'T however, fuzzed out the face of one my cats sitting on the doorstep - maybe it decided the cat's face was fuzzy enough!

    1. WraithCadmus

      Re: Fuzz!

      Not fuzzy? Is it a sphinx?

    2. Gareth Wright

      Re: Fuzz!

      Yup, using the PittPatt facial detection & recognition tech they purchased in 2011, the exact same tech they use in Android for face detection & recognition.

      In the version of PittPatt I used prior to the Google buy out it seemed to detect cats faces (relatively flat) but not dogs, which i assume is because of the snout!

      Why did I check that? Who wouldn't!?

      Still seems to have issues picking out faces where there aren't any, though how many times do humans see "faces" in shapes, wallpaper, clouds etc.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    You can see my mother's house get hit by hurricane Charley, get blue tarps thrown on the roof, the crap repair job, the trailer she ended up living in, and finally bulldozed for back taxes and mum sent to the nut-house or where-ever the hell she is now.

    Edit: you can also see where Ocala stopped maintenance/paving on a lot of roads in the area.

  3. JDX Gold badge

    Google-hating aside

    StreetView is pretty incredible when you stop and think about it, how quickly we've taken it for granted.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      There are two comments before yours, and none contain any hating I can detect.

      Seems to me you've jumped the gun there.

      1. dotdavid

        @Pascal - the OP was referring to the article which certainly does mention hating.

        @OP - indeed, if someone had come to me ten years ago and told me that in a few years someone will have panoramically photographed almost every road in the UK, let alone much of the rest of the world, I would have thought them insane. It's quite an impressive achievement.

  4. Squander Two


    > There was also the infamous collection of Wi-Fi data that Google's cars slurped up – accidentally, according to the company's explanation.

    Look, we all know most of the media aren't tech-savvy enough to see through that, but must El Reg indulge Google by repeating the claim that they embedded a major piece of software into a major piece of hardware and then literally rolled it out across multiple continents by accident?

    1. bigtimehustler

      Re: Accidents

      I don't know one way or the other, but it is possible that they developed it but intended to have it turned off in production but a config flag was set incorrectly in their install. Stupider things have happened, there are crazy bugs and cocked up releases going on all the time in every major bit of software.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Accidents

        > there are crazy bugs and cocked up releases going on all the time in every major bit of software.

        Agreed. However, this particular bit of software appears to have worked perfectly, which I think disqualifies it as either a bug or a cock-up.

        > it is possible that they developed it

        Which they initially denied.

  5. Gareth Wright

    Only a matter of time

    A "no-brainer" for Google, it was only a matter of time.

    Great for recording rebuilds and the like, particularly in the case of natural disaster.

    Also good to see our tour of HMS Ocelot getting another mention. You can read more about how we did that and see our tour of the last remaining WW2 British Navy Destroyer HMS Cavalier at

  6. Jim 59

    Free chocolate !

    Lots of excitement about what Google giving us. Not so much about what we give them in return.

  7. Aqua Marina

    Dr Who

    I'm now thinking, how long will it be before we spot a staged storyline in Street View like something out of a Dr Who episode, where you can see a series of events over varied locations, and through time. If you look at all the images chronalogically in the order they are recorded on the street mean nothing, but 10 years down the line, someone will spot the plot and will piece it together.

  8. RobDog

    I think what I would like to see

    as a logical extension to this, would be the (eg) Francis Frith collections of photos of yesteryear slurped and cleverly integrated into StreetView. So rolling back the years, but much much further, and checking out how things have changed since Ye Olden Days

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