Travel

Google’s giant eyeballs bound for Raleigh parks

Google product manager Ryan Falor demonstrates the Trekker, a 40-pound camera, for the media in 2012 at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. The company will loan the  unit to Raleigh to record some city trails and parks to feature in Google Trekker online.
Google product manager Ryan Falor demonstrates the Trekker, a 40-pound camera, for the media in 2012 at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. The company will loan the unit to Raleigh to record some city trails and parks to feature in Google Trekker online. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Raleigh’s most popular greenways and tourist sites will soon see some unusual pedestrians. They’ll be carrying nearly 70 pounds of digital equipment each, with giant metal eyeballs protruding from bulky, angular backpacks.

What they’ll be, in a sense, are the eyes of the Internet. The crew, equipped with Google-made camera gear, will be making interactive visual tours of some of the city’s trails, parks and destinations.

The Internet company already lets users virtually tour the city’s streets – and most other cities’ streets – through its online maps, spinning through 360-degree images taken all over Raleigh. Now the service will be extended off-road through a program called Google Trekker.

Google will lend the panoramic camera equipment for a month, free of charge, to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. Visitors bureau and, potentially, city staffers then will carry the gear across the city, and Google will compile and publish the interactive images.

Google has rolled out similar tours for places such as Nepal and Mount Fuji in Japan.

The filming could happen late this summer or early this fall. The visitors bureau has seven places on its filming list, though the choices could change. They tentatively are:

▪ The Art to Heart Trail, linking the N.C. Museum of Art to downtown

▪ Historic Yates Mill County Park

▪ Mordecai Historic Park

▪ Parts of the Neuse River Greenway

▪ The N.C. State Capitol

▪ Pullen Park

▪ Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden

Kenney: 919-829-4870;

Twitter: @KenneyNC

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