- Google Earth VR: largest library of VR content created by accident
- Fly over planet Earth in virtual reality
- Many updates and ports in the pipeline
According to Dominik Kaeser, engineering lead of the project, Google Earth VR was initiated four years ago by the Google Geo team.
Google Earth VR: largest library of VR content created by accident
It all started when Kaeser realized that data accumulated by the Geo team for Google Earth over nearly a decade could potentially be combined with virtual reality technologies to create an experience of unprecedented magnitude. According to Mike Podwal, the project manager, Google accidentally created the largest library of VR content.
now Google Earth VR is managed by a team entirely dedicated to the project, in close collaboration with the virtual reality team of Clay Bavor and the Geo team.. The application was launched directly without any prior announcement.
Fly over planet Earth in virtual reality
this app user can explore 54% of planet Earth, 94% of inhabited areas, around 175 cities, and more than 600 urban centers fully materialized in 3D for virtual reality. Let's be clear: VR applications for visiting places in the world at 360 ° already exist, but none can compare with what Google offers today.
The experience begins in space. The user overlooks the blue planet and can choose the region of the globe they wish to visit. Simply point the Vive controller and press the button to fly at high speed to the selected point. A press of the button also brings up a menu with a list of places of interest to get there instantly.
Google has chose the flight as the main means of locomotion within the application, because walking or teleportation would not have been sufficiently sensational. The firm wants to create memorable memories and a feeling of maximum immersion. To avoid motion sickness, a comfort mode reduces the field of vision during flight. This mode can be activated or deactivated on command.
Many updates and ports in the pipeline
For the moment, the experiment is not yet fully completed. The visual quality is not always there, particularly on the ground. However, the app will be continuously updated using Geo data.
The Google Earth VR team also plans to make many improvements. The visual fidelity will be improved, content will be expanded and new features will be implemented over time.
For now, only users of the HTC Vive VR headset will have the chance to fly freely from one continent to another and explore all the natural riches of our planet. Google is actively working on ports to other helmets, but does not wish to communicate further details on this at this time.