Thursday 29 September 2016

Fáilte Ireland 'borrows' Google Trekker to bring remote Irish beauty spots to the Internet

Trekker Loan

Published 04/08/2015 | 17:41

Google Trekker at work on Howth. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
Google Trekker at work on Howth. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
The Google Trekker in action
Travel Editor Pól Ó Conghaile tries on the Google Trekker in Madrid. The device weighs 40lbs (18kg) and contains 15 hi-tech cameras.

The wildest corners of Achill, Mizen Head, the Blaskets and more will soon be available to view online, thanks to a new partnership between Fáilte Ireland and Google.

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It's mapping Jim, but not as we know it.

Fáilte Ireland has announced that it is to borrow Google's hi-tech 'Trekker' to capture Street View images of some of the country's remotest spots.

The Google Trekker is a wearable backpack, mounted with a spherical device containing over a dozen cameras that gather images as it goes.

It is used to access areas beyond the reach of vehicles - such as the Colorado River, Everest base camp and the Amazon basin.

Google allows tourism boards, non-profits, universities and other third parties to borrow the Trekker, with successful applicants using it to collect imagery of hard to reach places "and help map the world," as the company puts it.

Fáilte Ireland will be borrowing the ‘Google Trekker’ for several weeks to capture beauty spots it says people "have not been able to see online before".

The shoot will begin this week on the Wild Atlantic Way, with Fáilte Ireland employees donning their hiking boots to capture sights in locations as diverse as Inishbofin, Achill, the Blaskets and Dun Aengus on Inis Mór.

Sliabh Liag, Croagh Patrick and Mizen Head will also be visited.

Google Trekker, Madrid.JPG
Our reporter gets his Google on

Though the device is hi-tech, however, hikers can expect a tough day's work - it weighs 40lbs (18kgs), as I discovered during a demonstration of the Google Trekker in Madrid this spring (one of the biggest challenges is getting it on).

The Trekker's cameras take a photograph every two seconds, with software later stitching the results into Street View panoramas.

Fáilte Ireland will also be borrowing the Trekker to capture highlights of ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’, its follow-up to the Wild Atlantic Way.

Spots set for Street View include "the narrow streets of medieval towns, the grounds of stately homes and iconic attractions such as Newgrange," it says.

Read more: 'Ireland's Ancient East' launched as follow-up to Wild Atlantic Way

The specialised camera will also be used to capture parts of Dublin, including scenic walks in places such as Howth Head, Sandycove and the Royal Canal.

Footage captured over the next few weeks will be processed by Google and made available in early 2016.

“Six out of ten visitors to Ireland last year cited the Internet as an influence when choosing the country as a destination," said Daragh Anglim, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Digital. "We hope these images inspire many viewers to subsequently make the crucial decision to come over here to see the real thing.”

This isn't the first time Google 'Trekkers' have been borrowed in Ireland. Last year, the Clare Local Development Company applied for a loan, using the device to capture panoramic images of several trails in the Banner County.

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