Google Earth VR is on the path to change the way people do staycations. If someone told you that you could see the world without buying a plane ticket or even leaving your house, you’d never say no to it, would you? That’s exactly what Google Earth VR has the potential to do!
Google Earth VR is a fantastic, all new, purpose-built re-imagining of the venerable tool that takes the same satellite data and imagery that’s been available to us for years in our browsers and on our mobile devices, and presents in all the glory that’s possible from a multi-year Google project manifested inside high-end consumer virtual reality.
Google is constantly rebuilding its most popular apps and tools for virtual reality – like YouTube, StreetView, Google Photos, Play Movies, and now finally Google Earth.
Google Earth VR is meant, said Dominik Kaeser, the project’s engineering lead, to give users the ability to “literally walk around cities and step over skyscrapers [and] go to the places that matter to you personally, or places that are difficult to get to, like the top of Mt. Fuji.”
You may wonder why Google released Google Earth VR for Vive and not for its own VR system Daydream or Samsung’s Gear VR – and the answer is very simple. You need to maintain some of the user experience—things like the way you navigate from point to point, zoom in and out, or grab the map and drag to move it—while building in all new ways to explore the world in full, immersive 3D with beautiful graphics. You need to be able to move around in a physical space and reach out and touch things, and for the moment, Vive is the best system available for doing that, and touch controllers for Facebook’s Oculus are due to come out next month.
How does Google VR on Vive work? You can walk around in it, your view from high above everything, but, since there are walls, eventually you’ll reach the limits of the physical space you’re in. If you want to traverse greater distances, you simply grab the destination using one of the Vive controllers and pull it towards you.
To add a bit of magic, the team behind Google Earth VR made it possible to “fly” from point to point. Pick a new location to visit, and indeed, the world begins to spin and you soar through the air toward your destination.
The Google Earth VR along with some other projects along the same lines simply show Google’s interest in the exploring the potentials of virtual reality.