LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A local photographer is putting Southwest Florida on the map in a whole new way. No matter where you are in the world, you'll be able to take a virtual trip inside your favorite businesses and restaurants.
Over the years, navigation has evolved from paper maps to online virtual maps that get you where you need to go, even right to the door step. The navigation doesn't have to stop there. Now, businesses are inviting you inside anytime, day or night.
"i've done Ford's Garage here, we have Lamotta's in Fort Myers, the Italian restaurant, Germain Lincoln, Lexus, Toyota. I just did Mercedes-Benz of Fort Myers ," photographer Mark Riehle said.
That list is going. The program is called Google Business Photos. Mark Riehle of Vision Images Photography is a Google Trusted Photographer. He moved down from Ohio to kickstart the program here.
"We're growing by the day. Very very quickly," Riehle said.
Using a wide-angle fish-eye lens and Google Street View technology, he captures ceiling-to-floor images and stitches them together to form a 360-degree virtual walking tour.
"We go from pretty much every 15 to 20 feet and the walk way will create a panoramic," Riehle said. The image goes from the business to the camera to your cell phone or computer. You can the move the image all around places like Ford's Garage no matter where you are in the world.
Just Google the business name. On the right of your screen, click "see inside."
"In today's world, technology is everything," Daniel Kearns of Ford's Garage said. "For customers who may have heard of us but haven't had a chance to come out to us, they are able to take a look at us."
The idea is to introduce people to more of what makes Southwest Florida great, in turn, boosting tourism and spending.
"If you have a tourist in town that's at their hotel and looking for the next restaurant to see, it's the perfect opportunity for the business to showcase the interior and guarantee those visits," Riehle said.
That's not all. If you're up north and feeling the winter blues, you'll soon be able to take a virtual beach trip. Last week, Visit Florida teams were trained by Google to capture images of Florida's 825 miles of beaches. Those pictures will appear on Google Maps next year.
For more information, you can contact Riehle at Visionimagesphotography@gmail.com.