After yesterday's introduction of Google Places, a revamp and streamlining of the already successful Local Business Center, Google is taking the business search engine one step further. In a few select trial cities, Google will send out professional photographers to businesses who volunteer to take interior photographs of your business for display online. When you search for these businesses on Google Places, you'll get a professional look at the interior, including facilities, layout, and merchandise. The photographer will take photos of informational decoration as well, such as menu placards, or pricing information. This is all free to the business, and there is a site to sign up at if you happen to be in the 30 trial cities.
The goal of this project is to give customers an accurate look the interior of a business before they go. An example Google gives is if you want to go out to eat a romantic dinner, and you want to check out the ambiance before you decide. Or, if you want to see pictures of clothes inside a retailer instead of just browsing their online catalog. They say the service is directed towards restaurants, cafes, hotels, spas, other service industries, and retailers, but that any business is able to sign up.
Keep in mind, Google has always offered this functionality, for a user to upload pictures of a business to their Place Page, as part of the Local Business Center. This is an alternative service that allows a professional to come from Google to take the pictures, hopefully giving users an even more accurate preview of what to expect at your Place.