There’s always a trait or usage scenario where certain new technologies shine. For the original Walkman, it was portability. For Amazon in its first few years of operation, it was books. For the Xbox, the Halo series of games became the core application that helped sell the console to gamers.
Enter Virtual Reality. There’s now dozens of great games and amazing applications available, but in my opinion, the application that will define VR for many new users for many years to come has just been released by Google. It’s Google Earth VR, and in this instance I will refrain from saying how much better it would be if you “experience it yourself” on a proper VR headset, because even looking at its video demonstration makes me look forward to its future possibilities.
An experience as smooth as demonstrated here is exciting, especially since we *know* Google is constantly updating its map database as well as adding locations and refining the renders. This is already good, and it’s just going to get better. Best of all, it’s free on Steam!
Also impressive is the fact that this application uses technologies central to the focus of this site: virtual reality, photogrammetric recreations, and you can be sure Google has some serious hardware backing everything up. To enhance the experience Google includes some pre-programmed tours at select locations.
Soon we can hope to get even closer, if Google chooses to implement StreetView into the application – a distinct possibility, but what a huge project to contemplate completing! It will be done eventually, I’m sure. It’s just a logical progression from Google’s first foray into mapping the world. It feels like virtual reality was made exactly for this purpose, and VR has found its core competency and first permanent killer app. If you own a Vive, or you’re planning to get one, or even have a chance to try it somewhere, make this application the first thing you try. It will change your view on VR.