News Column

Google 'Trekker' to Record Isle Spots in Hawaii

July 1 2013

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau will be using a Google Maps trekker to provide one more way to get visitors to see that the isles mark the spot for their next journey.

So, you might ask, who or what is a Google Maps trekker? It's someone who agrees to collect images by walking through the world, in this case Hawaii, with a backpack outfitted with 15 lenses above the wearer's head to gather images through tight, narrow spaces or locations that are accessible only by foot. The lenses, which are angled in different directions, capture images every 2.5 seconds that Google Maps later will use to stitch together its trademark 360-degree panoramic views.

The HVCB has tapped the staff of Hawaii Forest and Trail Ltd., an eco-tourism company headquartered on Hawaii island, to carry the 40-pound backpack to gather imagery from more than 20 Big Island trails. The imagery, which will be collected starting in July, will later be added to Google Maps and the HVCB's website.

The volunteers wearing the backpack are going to get looks at popular Hawaii island spots such as Pololu Valley Lookout, Akaka Falls State Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Rob Pacheco, Hawaii Forest and Trails co-founder and president, thinks it's really cool to be able to share images of his favorite Hawaii island spots with kama aina and visitors.

"I've had a love affair with maps since I was a kid, and I've been a fan of Google Maps since the beginning," Pacheco said. "We're a group of tiny islands in the middle of the world's largest ocean. To have the opportunity to go out and use this amazing technology to share what we see with the world is really great."

Pacheco's team is expected to complete its image-gathering this fall. The trekker will then go to Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

Google unveiled the technology last year at the Grand Canyon.

Source: Copyright Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI) 2013

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