Virtual reality can sweep us away to some strange and distant worlds, but it also has the ability to reveal our own in interesting new ways. Google has given its Earth software a virtual reality makeover, today launching Google Earth VR to add another layer of immersion for globetrotters of the digital realm.
Google Earth has been around for a decade and through a series of updates and improvements, now offers a highly detailed window into the many corners of the globe. But that experience may get a touch more intuitive with its latest iteration.
Earth VR works on the same principle, acting as a real-world portal into different locations around the world. But rather than simply clicking to zoom in and out, users can fly through cities, canyons and mountain ranges and simply turn their heads to take in all the features. You know, kind of like VR.
With so many places to visit, Google has taken the courtesy of handpicking a few, allowing users to take cinematic tours of locations including the Grand Canyon, the Amazon and the Manhattan skyline.
To begin with, Earth VR is launching on the HTC Vive, where the tracked motion controllers will be used to move users through the virtual world. If you've got the appropriate gear, you can download Google Earth VR from the Steam Store for free today. Google says it will become available on more platforms next year.