What do you get when you put an almost 4-foot high backpack on someone that’s barely 5’2″?
A lot of screaming, balancing and wobbling.
So it wasn’t the most graceful when I tried on Google’s Street View Trekker, one of several pieces of equipment the company uses to capture its Street View imagery.
The 3’9″ foot high (1.2m) Trekker consists of 15 cameras in a ball-like shape, mounted on a pole, powered by a computer backpack. The set up is fully waterproof, and battery-powered up to 8 hours.
It’s able to capture the 360-degree images we see on Google Maps’ Street View.
You’re meant to strap on the 44 lbs (20kg) contraption and carry it into places that are hard to reach on four wheels.
It’s been taken to places like the Komodo islands, on a zip line in Brazil leading to the Amazon, and even near a fiery volcano.
And today, it was brought for a walk through one of Singapore’s lush forest trails.
It only took about three people to help me get the Trekker on.
The hardest part was making it down three flights of stairs — the weight of the backpack caused me to lean heavily forward and I kept picturing myself tumbling down head-first.
I could also feel the 15-camera ball wobbling with each step I took, despite the Trekker looking quite sturdy.
In comparison, it was easier to walk back up the stairs, and far less scary to walk on flat ground, naturally.
In all, I lasted all of five minutes.
For the demo, Google brought in an ultra-marathoner who made it look like a literal walk in the park.
“The first time I tried it I had to steady myself a bit, but after a while you get used to it,” said Paviter Singh, a Singaporean ultra-marathoner.
“I can feel the weight for sure. Its manageable but we have to try to ensure that we don’t wobble too much.”
The Trekker, which was first launched in 2011, uses the same technology that is used in Google’s camera-equipped cars.
“The Trekker [uses] the same computer technology used in the Street View Car,” Cynthia Wei, Street View Program Manager, APAC told Mashable.
“We shrunk it, turning it into a wearable backpack. It was a lot of work to minimise it. We’re hoping it will get smaller.”
Google on Thursday announced that it was teaming up with JustRunLah, a Singapore running group, to capture nature trails around the country.
The collaboration is not unique to Singapore. In Australia for example, the country’s National Parks has teamed up with Google to capture some of the island’s off the beaten paths.
Individuals can also apply to borrow the Trekker and help map their piece of the world.
So the next time you take a virtual stroll down a far-flung path, just remember that you have an adventurous walker to thank for it.