Google introduced Google Earth VR on November 16, and it has generated a lot of buzz among technophiles. Google Earth VR is the ten-year-old Google Earth product ported to a virtual reality environment.
With Google Earth VR, the user can take guided tours of global landmarks, cultural treasures, and, for some, even their homes. Users can also fly over a remodeled version of the globe and on it select places to see, for example, Manhattan.The product, for now, is only available on the HTC Vive VR headset.
The most amazing thing about the product is the user experience. The product is so well designed, and quite frankly, it is damn cool. Google Earth VR is the kind of product that you want to show to all your friends who do not have the Vive headset. But beware, you might not get back your headset after they start using it! That’s how awesome the product is.
The tutorial that Google Earth VR comes with is useful and easy to follow, which makes the experience a breeze. The design is exquisite, and it makes one appreciate all the great work the product team did to deliver the amazing experience. These are the things that make kids want to become engineers!
Another thing that is amazing about the product is that it is free. The great thing about this is that it is likely to lead to a lot of users of the product. This is considering that the classic Google Earth product has had more than two billion downloads to date. I expect that these users will submit a lot of data and feedback to Google for improvement of the product. So I expect a much better product in the coming months and years.
One of the problems with the product is that the roads look too bumpy. This issue is caused by Google’s uses Maps data for the product. I expect that over time, Google shall build out a better rendering algorithm to smoothen the visual experience of the roads. It is also likely that users of the product shall submit corrections to improve the experience. So look out for that going forward.
I would also really love it if Google could add an animated real-time version of activities going on in the real world such as cars driving, planes taking off, basically allowing the user to view the world moving along. Sort of like a real-time video of the world. That would be the future of tourism. Or even stalking you might say.
Another issue is that you need a lot of bandwidth to use the product. I was lucky to be using a 250Mbit down and 100Mbit up connection. Otherwise, the experience would have been pretty terrible. So if you are going to use the product you had better be prepared with a lot of bandwidth to get the best possible experience. The other things lacking in the product are Google Street View integration, and the ability to search.
So, in summary, the great things about this product are the user experience and the cost (or lack of it!), but Google needs to improve on the rendering, add Google Street View, and include search functionality. That’s it for the review, and I hope that all of you get to experience the product for yourselves. I guarantee that you will be mindblown!