Yachting - - FRONT PAGE - By Kim Kavin

Since 2012, jim hilker has filmed in­side and out­side of about 4,000 busi­nesses for Google Street View, the tech­nol­ogy that lets any­one click on a map to see a panoramic view of how a place looks in real life. About two years ago, he says, Google asked him and oth­ers to think about more uses for the tool. Then a year ago, he had an epiphany on the In­tra­coastal Wa­ter­way off Sara­sota, Florida, aboard a friend’s 23-foot Scout. ¶ “We were cruis­ing and hav­ing a great time, but be­cause of what I do with Google Street View, I thought it would be great if I could see where we could go,” he says. “We wanted to go to some other ar­eas, but we didn’t know what they looked like or what was there.” ¶ Fast for­ward to to­day, and Hilker — with help from the Marine In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion of South Florida, MarineMax and Boat Own­ers Warehouse — has filmed nearly 150 miles of

the ICW, its con­nect­ing rivers, canals and more. His video is be­ing pack­aged as a free app called Wa­ter­way View that lets boaters, from any­where, see all along the wa­ter­ways as well as in­side ev­ery­thing from wa­ter­front res­tau­rants to ship­yards. ¶ “We’ve gone as far north as Jupiter In­let, and we’ve cov­ered all the ar­eas south to and in­clud­ing the Mi­ami River,” he says. “We’re go­ing to fin­ish up with south­ern Bis­cayne Bay, Ocean Reef and Key Largo.” ¶ There has been a sur­pris­ing learn­ing curve, he says: Film­ing on the wa­ter is harder than on land, and the slower a boat goes (say, in a no-wake zone), the more trou­ble the tech­nol­ogy has adapt­ing. But he is work­ing out the kinks and spread­ing the word to friends who stand ready to film na­tion­wide. ¶ “My plan is to roll out Wa­ter­way Views of the en­tire United States, in­clud­ing the lakes and rivers,” he says. “My goal is to do it in eight years.”

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