Sounds of Street View Lets You Listen to Google Maps

When Google launched its Street View experiment in 2007, it was an ambitious plan. It promised to give us all a more familiar POV of the world rather than Google Maps' familiar bird's eye vantage point, and six years later we can travel to thousands of locales, scale Mount Everest or meander down Diagon Alley.

We could now virtually globe trot from our browser, but what about sound? Amplifon, traditionally a hearing aid manufacturer, asked a similar question, and their answer is Sounds of Street View. This fledgling program hopes to blend the Web Audio API and Street View together, meaning as you wander Street View, location appropriate sounds follow you.

The program sounds best with a pair of headphones—or at the very least ear buds—because the Sounds of Street View experience in stereophonic and drops you in a 3D soundscape. So when you move away from a sound source, the audio dims and vice versa. For example, in the Place du Palais in France, I can hear a nearby accordion player, who was actually captured by the Street View team mid-performance. But as I move away from him, he's slowly drowned out by ringing bells in a nearby church.

The program also fills in other ambient background noise like low-muttering chatter, running water, or birds chirping. Stephen Griffin, a developer for Sounds of Street View, discusses in a dev-centric video how the team created the illusion of distance.

We created a function in JavaScript based upon the haversine formula. The haversine formula is a mathematical formula that returns the distance of two points on a sphere. The sphere in question in the application is the Earth's surface. The two points in question are the user's current position and the sound source location. We use the latitude of each of these two points to calculate the distance in meters of how far that sound is from the user.

However, the sounds recorded aren't region-specific but just looping audio that any developer can create. If you pay close enough attention, some audio doesn't seamlessly loop, causing blips here and there, and right now Sounds of Street View is pretty limited. With only three Amplifon-built locations—Place du Palais, France; Hapuna Beach, Hawaii; and Balboa Park in San Diego. But Street View also started with only a few locations, and Sounds of Street View doesn't require a legion of dedicated digital cartographers to go capture audio. Whether Amplifon's ambitions will flourish like Google's six years ago remains to be seen, but Street View with sound, especially with Google Cardboard, could become even more amazing. [The Next Web]