Google Earth VR: Google has launched a new free version of Google Earth that can be explored by a virtual reality headset. For now, only HTC Vive users can access the new version with the help of their dedicated 3D controllers. It offers tours of various cities around the world.
Using HTC Vive, you can get aerial views of mega cities like Tokyo and New York. As per UploadVR, Google Earth VR project’s engineering lead, Dominik Kaeser said that they began working on it four years ago as a “20 percent project.” It’s a strategy that encourages Google employees to spend 20 percent of their time outside of the projects they are working in. That way Google would be able to widen their portfolio of products. They had been collecting and cataloguing obscene amount of visual data from all over the planet to create Google Maps and Google Earth. During one of this session, Kaeser realised that the data his team was amassing could give birth to something unique.
Mike Podwal, the project manager for Google Earth VR, says: “We’re truly standing on the shoulders of giants here as we develop this new platform. In a way, we’ve accidentally been developing one of the ultimate content libraries for VR without even realising it.”
Podwal, also informed that 94 percent of the world’s population is covered in the Google Earth VR experience. It also covers 54 percent of the Earth’s land mass as well as around 175 cities with full, 3D data, and over 600 ‘urban cores’.
The Google Earth VR has its own team of workers now who are consistently working on adding new features, expand as well as increasing visual fidelity.
The app is currently available for free on the HTC Vive. Download link for GEVR from the official Steam page. We suspect the version for Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and Daydream View VR will be released soon.