Cliff Peskin
Jan 14 2010

The real world is merging with the virtual world. In fact, the virtual world is replacing the real world – in many areas. Why? Because the virtual world enables us to do things that just aren’t possible in the real world.

For instance, we can sit in our living room in Toronto and take a summer stroll through the streets of Manhattan with Google Street View. And, soon, we’ll be seeing virtual billboards and for sale signs as we mozy about.

Google has been granted a patent named “Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising,” detailing “techniques for identifying groups of features in an online geographic view of a real property and replacing and/or augmenting the groups of features with advertisement.” This is wild.

Stan Schroeder of Mashable writes that Google’s goal is to use real billboards in their Street View images to place new ads, “The idea is ingenious, really. Most of those obsolete ads on billboards (in Google Streetview) serve very little purpose in the virtual world of Street View, but if one could replace them with up-to-date advertisements, they could be another source of income for the giant from Mountain View.”

“Of course, there’s a jungle of legal obstacles that Google would have to solve before actually going through with this. Who owns the virtual billboards? And what about the companies who paid for the original ads on them?”

Although there is no evidence yet for Google planning virtual ‘For Sale’ signs on Street View real estate, this must surely be around the corner too.

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