HONOLULU - Hawaii's volcanoes, rain forests and beaches will soon be visible on Google Street View.
Google Inc. said Thursday it was lending its backpack cameras to a Hawaii trail guide company to capture panoramic images of Big Island hiking trails.
Photos will be loaded to Google Maps and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau website, gohawaii.com.
"The most magical places that we all know and love in Hawaii need to be reached on foot - they need to be explored that way," said Evan Rapoport, Street View project manager.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has already taken Street View images of the Grand Canyon and other places popular with travelers.
This is the first time the Silicon Valley company has handed over its "Street View Trekker" to another party to have someone else take the images.
Rapoport said Google will offer the technology to other organizations around the world that want to sign up for similar partnerships. Groups like tourism boards, government agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations might be among those to use the device, he said.
Having people who know a given place best take Street View images will make Google Maps more interesting and useful, he said.
On the Big Island, Hawaii Forest & Trail guides carrying the trekker device will walk along more than 20 state and national park trails by the end of September.
Hawaii Forest & Trail will mail memory cards with the images to Google, which will process the data. Photos from 15 cameras in the trekker will be stitched together for a 360-degree panorama, Rapoport said.
The images should be online by the end of the year or early next year, said Jay Talwar, chief marketing officer of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
The project is a partnership between Google and the visitors bureau, which promotes the state to North American markets. The agency plans to expand the effort to the rest of the state. It's currently looking for partners who will take Street View images of trails on other Hawaii islands.