After Google's Maps event today, we had to take a spin with Trekker, Google's backpack for taking Street View off the streets and into the wild. The 30-pound contraption is essentially a modified version of the same setup Google has long used on its Street View car fleet. Up top are 15 5-megapixel cameras that are constantly shooting, and the GPS that's normally in the car has been added here as well — two of them, actually. However, Google wants Trekker to work in places where GPS doesn't, so it has added an accelerometer for more direct movement tracking. If GPS is unavailable, the accelerometer and compass will help keep the images it captures aligned. The accelerometer also helps the computer recognize and compensate for a person's gait. To use it, you simply pull out the attached Android device, hit the start button, and start walking. The Android device also helps the user keep track of the two batteries, which should together last all day but are hot-swappable if they run short. It's all controlled by a computer packed within a metal box that bears a tiny resemblance to a Ghostbuster Proton pack, if you ask us.
How does it feel to wear? Not bad at all: 30 pounds isn't all that much heavier than your standard blogger's pack and definitely in range for serious hiker gear. The cameas do make it a little awkward if you bend too far in any direction, but as long as you remain upright, it's a well-balanced imaging machine. Google says that it hopes to deploy the Trekker soon.
Update: This post was originally published using the name "Google's Tracker Street View backpack" and has now been changed to rectify the error.