Oahu, Maui now on Google Street View
You can't see the Russian Fort on Kaua'i from here — yet.
But Web surfers can now see the surf at Sandy's, the royal palms at 'Iolani Palace and, most likely, their own house on the Next Cool Thing on the Internet, Google Street View.
Google yesterday announced that O'ahu and Maui are the latest venues covered by Street View, which allows Web users to go from a satellite view of a spot on Earth to see what it looks like from ground level.
Hawai'i is the 50th state to get the Google Street View treatment, according to the official Google blog (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/fifty-states-of-street-view.html)
To use the feature on Google maps, drag the orange man icon on the upper left corner onto the spot on the map you'd like to see from ground level.
(If the icon is grayed out, that means a street view is not available.)
The Hawai'i images were captured this summer by a car rigged with an 8-foot-tall stalk topped with a ring of cameras.
The Google car cruised public streets, snapping pictures left and right.
The result is that not only can you see your own house, you can rotate the image and see houses on the other side of the street.
Laura Melahn, Google product marketing manager, said in the Google blog, "Being born and raised on O'ahu, I like to think we saved the best for last."
Her statement said, "With our imagery of O'ahu and Maui, you can now take a virtual vacation to white sandy beaches, revisit special places from your honeymoon, or plan your next getaway.
"We've worked with the Hawai'i Visitors and Conventions Bureau to create collections in our new Street View Gallery featuring Hawaii's best beaches and hometown favorites of President Obama."
Google Street View has raised privacy concerns, even though the images are captured from public vantage points. Some critics have argued that because the photos are taken from a raised platform, they can peer over walls and otherwise offer views not normally available from the street.
A Pittsburgh couple sued Google, claiming it "significantly disregarded (their) privacy interests" when Street View cameras captured images of their house beyond signs marked "private road," according to The Business Insider Web site. Aaron and Christine Boring sought more than $25,000 in damages.
However, in February the U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania dismissed the lawsuit.