Google Earth Goes VR


The promise of the world being at your fingertips has finally become a reality – albeit a virtual one.

Google Earth, which covers almost the entire land mass of the planet through satellite and aerial imagery, is now available in virtual reality form. It’s been released through Steam for the HTC Vive system and Google plans to add it to other systems next year.

The old garbage in, garbage out means the effects are something of a mixed bag. ‘Visit’ some areas such as US cities which have the maximum resolution of just six inches and it’s a stunning effect. (Earth VR comes with some of the more impressive locations such as the Manhattan skyline and the Grand Canyon already bookmarked, and it even has some pre-designed ‘tours’.)

‘Visit’ more remote areas with low resolution and only two-dimensional source images and the effect is less impressive, with one account likening it to an N64 game.

It seems as if Google has done a good job of adjusting the technology to suit headsets. For example, when you use the controller to quickly move from one location to another, the viewing areas shrinks down to avoid creating too much unsettling virtual motion.