1. Dark Penguin's Avatar
    Lately I've noticed a strange thing. As I use either the Earth or the Maps app to navigate to a busy corner of DTLA -- just outside the 7th Street Metro station, when I go to Street View it's practically worthless. The entire picture is coarse and "pixellated"; if I zoom out far enough it becomes clear but only with such a wide FOV that it's like a fish eye lens. I notice also that almost everybody you see on the sidewalk is blurred, which seems strange. I can appreciate that there are always going to be some people who insist on having images of themselves blurred, but I doubt that most people care. Nobody's doing anything to be embarrassed about; they're just walking along, going into or coming from the Metro station. Just plain, everyday, ordinary, innocent stuff. But now it seems like 95% of the pedestrians' faces are blurred, which also carries over into architectural details being blurred or pixellated as well. I can only see this happening if everybody now gets blurred out by default.

    I haven't fully scoped this out, but I'm beginning to think that wherever you see a lot of people on the street, GSV will now be so blurred as to be nearly worthless, while in areas like my quiet San Diego North County neighborhood, everything remains clear. A quick view of Market near Geary, in San Francisco, seems to support the crowd theory. People, cars, and buildings are all blurred, as if somebody had done the picture in mosaic using inch-wide tiles.

    I've only noticed this since a few days ago. Has there been some policy change by Google, or some new statute or judicial ruling that is forcing Google to do this? It's been bad enough that I'll never get to use GSV to revisit the places I went to in Germany, but now I can't even do DTLA? What is this?

    ETA: And Times Square NYC, as well. Do we no longer get to use Street View to look at interesting urban areas?

    I'll do some screenshots tomorrow if nobody has replied by then, but right now I'm just wondering if there are any "me-too's" out there.
    12-25-2014 01:39 AM
  2. AxlMyk's Avatar
    Not everyone wants their faces shown, perceived innocence or not. So the solution is to blur everyone. Except to the NSA of course.

    AC App on SGS3
    12-25-2014 08:47 AM
  3. Dark Penguin's Avatar
    But do they have to blur every *thing* as well? Are buildings and street signs now to be treated as if they were people? Or is it an unintentional collateral impact of the blurring process that the entire block or so where pedestrians and cars happen to be is likewise blurred? Doesn't seem like SV has any reason to exist, if you can't get a clear view of any city street with people in it.
    12-25-2014 10:17 AM
  4. Dark Penguin's Avatar
    FWIW it seems better today. I really don't know why it seemed so bad yesterday, unless I had just randomly chosen the worst shots from when the Google car drove by.
    12-25-2014 04:12 PM
  5. Dark Penguin's Avatar
    Not everyone wants their faces shown, perceived innocence or not.
    To be perfectly clear, I couldn't care less about being able to recognize anyone in a GSV image, as that isn't what I use the product for. I do like being able to recognize buildings and locations, though, mainly for reasons of historical interest.
    12-25-2014 04:14 PM
  6. AxlMyk's Avatar
    I understand where you are coming from, but there are people out there that might want to know who was where. if blurring people has the effect of blurring buildings, I don't consider it to be a problem.

    AC App on SGS3
    12-26-2014 09:03 AM
  7. Dark Penguin's Avatar
    It's all pretty random how this happens, and sometimes there don't seem to be any images of pedestrians or otherwise sensitive images in a particular frame, yet everything is blurred anyway. Having looked further I'm less convinced that face and number plate blurring are the sole explanation for all of this. Also, it seems that the blurring is much more noticeable on my mobile device than on my notebook; to the extent that there is any correlation with human crowds/traffic, it occurs to me that this could be because when driving the display for a larger screen Google's software is better able to do the blurring as needed without compromising the rest of the image.

    Here are some examples, screenshotted from my phone but reasonably accurate in how they illustrate the problem.

    L.A.'s historic Plaza Blurry Church


    Its pixellated campanile in close-up


    And here we have City Hall, a famous example of the 1920s pixellated style of civic architecture.
    Attached Thumbnails Street View: Are all human figures and cars now being blurred by default? (Downtown L.A.)-15928849917_120f06a4fc_o_d.png  
    12-26-2014 11:46 PM
  8. Dark Penguin's Avatar
    I understand where you are coming from, but there are people out there that might want to know who was where. if blurring people has the effect of blurring buildings, I don't consider it to be a problem.
    It seems a problem to me if it renders the service unusable. Already, it seems you can't read addresses or signs on buildings, so as a really useful service I think SV is done. I wouldn't be surprised if Google axes Street View in the next year or two, if it has to be crippled to this sad level.
    12-27-2014 12:06 AM
  9. AxlMyk's Avatar
    Perhaps Google lowers the resolution on the mobile cameras. After all, it takes a lot of resources, computer wise, to process and record those files. Then they merge them with higher res images, you see the result. (just my guess)
    You have to admit, that the ability to see a town on your phone is incredible. Something that was only dreamed about through the end of the last century. I'm amazed that I have lived to see the transformation. My first digital training was a breadboard with and-or gates, etc. back in 1970.

    I'm sure it'll get better.
    12-27-2014 10:43 AM

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