Google has officially launched Google Earth VR, a first-person exploration package which uses data captured by satellite, aerial, and Streetview cameras, for HTC's Vive virtual reality platform - and not, oddly, its own Daydream system.
As part of the current VR explosion, Google has been investing heavily in virtual reality technology: after testing the waters with its low-cost Cardboard system, the company has pushed the technology further with its recently launched Daydream platform - but all the hardware and software in the world isn't enough if you don't have content. To encourage adoption the advertising giant has announced the launch of Google Earth VR, which takes its popular Google Earth package and makes it compatible with virtual reality headsets and controllers.
'Ten years ago, Google Earth began as an effort to help people everywhere explore our planet. And now, with more than two billion downloads, many have,
' claimed Google's Mike Podwal in the company's launch announcement
. 'Today, we are introducing Google Earth VR as our next step to help the world see the world. With Earth VR, you can fly over a city, stand at the top of the highest peaks, and even soar into space.
Like Tilt Brush, Google's 3D modelling system, Google Earth VR is launching exclusively for the HTC Vive via Valve's Steam distribution platform. While this excludes Google Cardboard and Daydream users from experiencing the system, Google is expected to launch further versions of the software in the near future to support additional hardware - and the idea it would leave its own devices out of the playground is laughable.
A video demonstrating Google Earth VR is reproduced below, while the package itself can be downloaded for free via Steam