While it’s already possible to visit certain art museums utilizing the Street View function in Google Maps, there aren’t many features to this function other than gazing at still pictures of art. But now, Google is adding more options for museum lovers. Starting Wednesday, if you want to visit museums like the Smithsonian National Art Museum or MOMA with Street View, you will be able to read information about the paintings, see high-res close-ups, and more.
If you’re using Google’s Chrome browser, whether, on a computer or a cell phone, you can receive additional data alongside the paintings when visiting a museum on Google Street View. Click on the annotations and details Google has collected from museums across the globe will give you further facts on the specific work of art. In order to provide these added points, Street View, using the same technology that allows Google’s Photos app to tell the difference between food and people, cross-references visual cues from paintings with information from Google’s Arts & Culture department provided by the museums in the partnership.
Marzia Niccolai, a Technical Program Manager at Google, explains why the change: “It’s not just about what the user has searched for, but taking them on a journey so that they can discover things that they never even knew they would like.”
According to Google, users make searches pertaining to art 500 million times per month. In an effort to improve the search experience, an art related question will not only return specific results, say about Pablo Picasso, but also provide examples of his work or where certain paintings are housed in a special panel available across all Google’s platforms. “Once we realized the demand was out there, we decided that this was something that was a very high priority for us,” adds Niccolai.
In addition to helping users, this new feature may keep Google at the top of the class, beating out Microsoft and Apple when it comes to educational services. Last year, Chromebooks made up 58% of classroom devices in American primary and secondary schools according to Futuresource Consulting, with its competitors falling behind at 22% and 14% respectively. Though Niccolai says that helping its users is Google’s main focus: “It’s just about search being able to derive the best answers to peoples’ questions.”
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