The Google Maps Street View CameraS

Your friends have undoubtedly been clogging up your in-box with funny pictures from Google Maps Street View, but do you know how those pictures were taken? You do now. Google licensed shots from Immersive Media, a company that specializes in 360-degree videos, in order to fill out their coverage in cities like NYC.

As you can see, IM mounts a 11-camera contraption on top of their vehicle as they drive in order to capture the 360-degree view you get on Google Maps. One thing to note, however, is that Google's San Francisco shots look a lot more detailed than their NYC shots. That's because Google took their own van out to take the SF pics.

Google Maps zoom: here's the device and vehicle behind it [Boing Boing]