In another twist in the current Google Street View controversy, a simple hack has been uncovered that allows images displayed by the online mapping service to be swapped for ultrafine versions, up to five times more detailed.
By appending the variables "&4pr11fo01" at the end of a Google Street View URL (which you can obtained from the "paste link in email or IM" option on the right hand side), users will be able to see original Google view images in their highest resolutions, up to 12-megapixels.
Another consequence of the hack is that users will be able to see faces and plate numbers as Google's original mask, which was applied back in June 2008 effectively lowered the resolution of Google Street View images across all photos.
The hack only works, one image at a time, which makes it slightly cumbersome given the amount of copy/paste involved. Revisiting some landmarks prove to be a very immersive 3D experience but it did come with some unexpected surprises. A close look at Wally - whom you can find on the Putney High Street - from "Where is Wally" showed that he was actually a "she".
Google initially used pictures from spherical video company Immersive Media but switched to an inhouse solution from December 2007. According to a number of experts, Google has been using a customised version of the Seitz 6x17 digital camera which can produce 160-megapixel pictures.
This latest twist will probably cause Google some trouble with privacy groups like Liberty or Privacy International. The latter has already asked the Information Commissioner's Office to look into Street View's impact on individual privacy rights.