Oct. 19--Three area businesses will soon be added to the list of those that can be toured virtually using Googlemaps.com.
Drew Hilker, a photographer with Places.Mobile, took panoramic interior shots of the businesses Friday, and after some processing, the images will allow Googlemaps users to virtually stroll around the venues.
The Adirondac, a cruise ship owned by Shoreline Cruises in Lake George; The Loft at the Remington in Chestertown; and the Downtown City Tavern at 21 Elm St. in Glens Falls will soon join The Algonquin restaurant in Bolton, The Georgian Lakeside Resort in Lake George, Glens Falls Toyota & Scion in Glens Falls and the Regan Denny Stafford Funeral Home on Quaker Road in Queensbury on Google's interior Street View database.
"It's only going to help our business," said Tim Scialabba, manager of the Downtown City Tavern. "We get calls from people all the time who want to do parties here, and we don't want to say we don't want to do it."
Now, Scialabba can refer inquiring patrons to the restaurant's Street View on Googlemaps so they can get a better sense for the size of the restaurant's dining room.
Hilker, whose business is licensed by Google to gather and process the photographs needed for the interior views, uses a camera with a fish-eye lens on a swivel atop a tripod to get the photos he needs. At the City Tavern Friday, he started outside the business, taking a series of photos until he'd gotten the high-resolution, ground-to-sky photos he needed.
He then repeated the process in the entryway and about every 15 feet to the back of the dining room.
The process took about 20 minutes and will allow virtual visitors to see five different panoramic views of the restaurant's bar and dining room. Those who use the feature to pan straight down might notice the tripod's legs in the image.
As with the more ubiquitous Google Street View feature, the faces of patrons inside the bar, along with computer screens and license plates visible through windows, will be blurred before the tour is uploaded to the Internet, Hilker said. He's never had anyone object to his presence, though.
"I had one man tell me, 'Make sure they don't see me at all,' " Hilker said. "So, we blurred his entire body. Most people are excited; they want to be on Googlemaps."
Kathy Powers, of South Glens Falls, was using her smart phone in the restaurant Friday as Hilker was moving through with his camera.
"I think it's a fascinating technology," Powers said.
Places.Mobile is licensed by Google to offer the Street View photography service to businesses in New York State and central Pennsylvania. Though Google does not charge to keep the images on its Street View feature, Places.Mobile charges for the cost of the photography and processing.
Prices for a typical business range from $375 to $800, though the cost can be higher for larger venues.
Any area business wishing to sign up for the service can do so at SeeInsideNY.com. More information on Places.Mobile is available at placesmobile.com.