Next time you go into your garden make sure you look up towards the sky to check that there isn’t something watching you. As reported in the Sunday Times, users of Apple iPhones will soon be able to see into people’s houses through skylights using a 3-D mapping service based on high resolution aerial photographs from spy planes.
This week Apple is expected to unveil their new app, Maps, for their iPhone and iPad which is set to rival Google Maps. With the assistance of Apple’s own private air force fitted with military grade camera equipment, they are able to capture the world’s towns and cities in high definition 3-D. The images are expected to be so detailed that they will be able to reveal objects four inches across.
Google currently dominates the market with StreetView and has announced that it too also plans to use camera planes to produce new 3-D maps for its own products. This announcement comes at a time when there are still unanswered questions over the intrusion of privacy that the Street View service may present.
What we are clearly seeing is a technological style ‘arms race’ to produce the most detailed maps of towns and streets. It is concerning that both companies are so insistent on rushing ahead with new maps while there are still concerns of Street View. This is a race to the bottom between Google and Apple and in a rush to get these products to market, all privacy concerns will go out the window.
On the whole, Street View only shows you images that any member of the public would see walking down the road. The next generation of maps are taking us over the garden fences and beyond people’s windows. You won’t be able to even sunbathe in your own garden without worrying about an Apple or Google plane buzzing overhead taking pictures.
It shouldn’t be for companies to decide if a super hi-resolution image of your home is made available online – and if the motivation of the companies is profit, it’s essential laws and regulations recognise this very quickly.