Now this is pretty cool. Google has announced a new virtual reality (VR) version of Google Earth, the virtual navigable globe operated by the internet giant since 2005.
Google Earth VR is available to download for free from Valve’s Steam store, though you will of course need a VR headset. Unlike other initiatives that are marketed as “VR,” this isn’t a glorified 360-degree video project — you will require a $800 HTC Vive headset to enjoy this experience, though other platforms will be catered to next year.
By the sounds of things, you won’t be able to traverse every square inch of the planet. However, you will be able to climb mountains, fly over city skylines, and sail down rivers. Google has compiled a bunch of tours and destinations to use with your VR headset. Check out the demo video here:
The year 2016 could go down as a pivotal year for VR. Countless companies have entered the fray, from HTC and Facebook to Google, Intel, and Huawei. As a result, we’ve seen some quirky entertainment initiatives come to the fore, such as movie theaters and amusement parks.
But Google Earth VR is surely one of the coolest applications for virtual reality outside of gaming — it’s just a shame you need to cough up $800 to experience this.