Google has already started to expand its StreetView system beyond roads, capturing 360-degree images of trails in North America using gigantic backpack contraptions such as the one above. But a new patent received by the company points to a far more elegant solution.
It’s a walking stick with embedded cameras and location sensors, and a switch at the bottom that causes the device to snap pictures whenever the stick hits the ground.
The patent for a Walking Stick with an IMU (inertial measurement unit) was granted to Google this morning, based on an application submitted in September 2011.
The patent isn’t limited to walking sticks, also covering objects such as “a cane, a crutch, a monopod, a trekking pole, a staff, or a rod.” The patent filing notes that some of these options, such as the trekking pole, would allow the device to collapse for portability.
We’ve sent a message to the company asking if it plans to implement this new approach. In the meantime, if you’re really concerned about privacy, keep a close eye on what the people around you on the trails this summer are using to get around!