So your company has it’s own HTC Vive headset capable of full room-scale experiences. You’ve already connected it to Autodesk’s VR software, you’ve plugged it in directly to Dassault Systèmes 3DExperience platform. So what’s next? What’s the killer app to help you convince any of your reluctant colleagues to fully commit to the VR future?
Because VR is unlike anything anyone will have experienced before, it’s a platform that everyone needs to try before they can understand it’s real-world possibilities. There are already a hand full of demos that have given headset owners that initial aha’ moment, including ADR1FT, Everest VR and The Climb. But now the heavyweights of Google have elbowed their way into the mindsets of all ‘virtual reality connoisseurs’, releasing the first must-have VR experience.
If you’ve ever dreamt of floating above the earth in an ‘out-of-body’ experience, then you may already be well-aware with what Earth VR is all about. For everyone else, Google’s application allows you to “fly over a city, stand at the top of the highest peaks, and even soar into space.” You can “visit the Amazon River, the Manhattan skyline, the Grand Canyon, the Swiss Alps, and more”— all from the comfort of your office or home. Long story short, you can be anywhere in, or above the ‘world’, and it’s only possible in VR.
My time with Earth VR was a surprisingly emotional experience, something you probably won’t be expecting as you start with the familiar feeling screen for the first time. After flying as fast as possible (without feeling sick) across the plains of Africa, with just a few taps on the hand remote, I switched to ground level mode; literally bringing you back down to Earth at a normal adult height. This is where things get very interesting, and really cements Earth VR’s killer app status. In perfectly rendered environments you can walk along as if you was really there. If you’ve ever wanted to visit somewhere, but for whatever reason you never have, in some-cases, Earth VR now makes it virtually possible. For me this meant strolling around San Francisco’s famous streets, including a visit to the Levi’s Stadium. As someone who has never been lucky enough to visit the famous US city, I now feel like I have largely experienced what makes it such a popular destination, and only makes me want to visit again and again,
The best thing about Earth VR is that it could never be a boring experience because there’s always that, what if. What if I visited the famous Burning Man in California’s overbearingly hot desert? What if I was an astronaut floating above the Earth? What if, what if, what if? As a showcase for VR, Earth VR, in most cases, answers that what if, with a resounding, why not?
Google Earth VR is available on Steam for the HTC Vive, and it’s available to download now for free.