If you spend too much time in front of a computer (like many of us here), you may sometimes get a strange itch to stand up and go "outside." You know, that bright place with all the loud noises and the people. But you don't actually have to do that anymore, thanks to "Sounds of Street View," a new experience for your web browser that adds ambient, site-specific noise to a few of the panoramic photos on Google Maps. Right now, it lets you click around and hear sounds recorded at the Place du Palais in Avignon, France; Hapuna Beach, Hawaii; and Balboa Park, San Diego, California.
If you move to one spot, you'll hear pigeons cooing, while another spot gives you the sound of people clinking glasses they dine. The noises are all short, looping clips, so if you stand in one spot too long, the illusion of reality is broken. And moving around Google Street View's static photos is still not really all that similar to real life or even virtual reality. But the addition of site-specific noises is a clever and immersive one, and may temporarily alleviate some of your desk claustrophobia. The company behind the project — Italian hearing-aid seller Amplifon — has further opened its code up on GitHub, allowing other developers to create sound maps for other places around the world.