Resh Sidhu is VR Creative Director within Framestore’s VR Studio, based in New York. Bringing you the best and most interesting news in VR, AR and A.I.

Google just did it again! Google Earth VR is awesome!

Google just did it again! Google Earth VR is awesome!

Introducing Google Earth VR if you can get to a VR headset then you must try this it's awesome. This is Google's next step to help the world see the world and it's playful, surprisingly good and highly addictive you will not want to step back into reality! 

With Earth VR, you can fly over a city, stand at the edge of a mountain, and even soar into space. Google Earth VR is a surprise project from Google’s Geo team. This is the team behind Google Maps and the original Google Earth. The group has spent the better part of a decade collecting and cataloging an obscene amount of visual data from all over the planet. Now, all of that information is being used to create a VR experience that can take you almost anywhere on Earth you want to go or can imagine.

According to Mike Podwal, project manager for Google Earth VR, “94 percent of the world’s population is covered in this experience. 54 percent of the Earth’s land mass is covered. There are around 175 cities with full, 3D data, and over 600 ‘urban cores’ as well.” Google Earth turns all of this data into completely explorable, scalable 3D immersive worlds for the HTC Vive VR headset. 

Google Earth VR’s primary locomotion system is flight. Podwal explained that his team didn’t feel that the standard locomotion systems of teleportation or joystick walking would work for this particular project. They want you to feel and remember the journeys you take as you devour every corner of the places you are exploring. Initially, the experience gives you a comfort mode in which your FOV is narrowed as you fly to reduce simulator sickness. This can be disabled in the options menu for those that prefer more uninhibited traversal.

According to Dominik Kaeser, the project’s engineering lead, Google Earth VR began four years ago as a “20 percent project.” Google encourages its employees to spend 20 percent of their time at work on outside projects that could help extend the company’s steadily widening portfolio of products. Kaeser was on the Geo team at the time and realized that the data his group was amassing could combine with VR into something truly special. 

Google Earth VR now has its own team that works with Clay Bavor’s Google VR squadron as well as the remaining Geo team members. Podwal explained that this newly minted group will be working consistently to add new features, increase the visual fidelity and expand the already massive world.

Google Earth VR is like nothing else available today. the scope and overall philosophy are one of the VR scene’s first truly immersive spaces. There is always a game to play or a movie to watch inside a VR headset, but there are very few places at this point to simply be. Google Earth VR is one of the first and, so far, it is definitely the best.

Google Earth VR is available now on Steam for the HTC Vive.

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