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Google positions itself as a key influencer in how people perceive destinations and where they decide to visit. The trekker program capturing these hard-to-reach places will likely make them more approachable to tourists.

A century ago Sir Ernest Shackleton, a British explorer known for his four Antarctic expeditions, and his crew sailed to Antarctica to explore the uninhabited continent of penguins and sub-zero temperatures.

This year, to mark the centennial celebration of the expedition, Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic and Google Street View teamed to showcase the continent and surrounding islands like never before.

Google’s Trekker project enables a photographer for a tourism board, university or another entity to carry a camera weighing 43 pounds, mounted on backpack, and to use its 15 lenses to shoot a photo every 2.5 seconds. Linblad Expeditions and National Geographic captured more than 10,000 panoramic shots taken by only one Lindblad photographer. Capturing images of difficult places to reach is one of the program’s goals.

The Trekker camera is technology invented by Google using adjacent cameras taking slightly overlapping photos. The photos are then “stitched” together into a single 360-degree image. Signals from sensors on the camera measure GPS, speed and direction, helping reconstruct the camera’s exact route and even tilt and realign images as needed.

The nine locations photographed include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands and were taken over 19 days in March.

The bi-company team set sail from Buenos Aires, Argentina on the 148-guest National Geographic Explorer ship, equipped with an ice-strengthened hull and advanced navigation equipment for polar expeditions. The team arrived at the remote South Atlantic locations via Zodiac landing craft deployed from the ship.

The goal of bringing images of the Antarctic to computer screens across the globe met obstacles just as Shackleton’s Endurance expedition had. Google wanted to capture images of the region but didn’t have the means to travel there. This is where Lindblad, aligned with National Geographic, came in.

Google Street View gives unprecedented, digital access to destinations around the world and makes seeing these places possible for those who otherwise can’t make an in-person trip.

Google’s Business View project, similar to Street View, helped visitation exponentially increase to some destinations and led to large influxes in destinations’ website traffic as well, making Google a key influencer in how travelers experience a place before they’ve even arrived.

“Google is iconic, brilliant, and the experience with their team has been fabulous, they spent lots of time training our team at Google headquarters,” said Patty Disken-Cahill, a spokesperson for Lindblad. “This project provided us the opportunity to profile areas of the world we love, and we were able to get them to areas they could not get to.”

The partnership started when Sven Lindblad, the company’s founder and president, met Google Co-Founder Larry Page on Lindblad’s Arctic Summit hosted on its National Geographic Explorer in 2008, said Disken-Cahill.

Lindblad is a small ship expedition travel company making voyages to all seven continents. It’s alliance with National Geographic since 2004 includes past expeditions to Costa Rica, Alaska and the Serengeti plains in Africa.

Together the companies have a joint fund, the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Joint Fund for Exploration and Conservation, raising more than $11 million so far and supporting initiatives around the world with a special focus on the regions they explore.

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Tags: antarctica, google, maps, national geographic

Photo credit: Google's Trekker camera in South Georgia. Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic

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