‘Google Earth VR’ Launches on HTC Vive, A Breathtaking New Way to Know Our Planet, By Ben Lang

Google launches Earth VR for the HTC Vive for free, giving us a whole new perspective on the world.

I remember, back in 2001, how amazed I was to see Google Earth for the first time. I remember huddling around the computer monitor with friends shouting “go to New York City!” “Go to Hawaii!” “Go to the Grand Canyon!”, and with a line of text and a tap on the return key, we were there, as the digital globe spun and zoomed in smoothly to give us a previously unseen view of these exotic locales. Google Earth made the world tangible in a way we’d never known it.

15 years later, in Google’s San Francisco office, I felt that same magic. Except this time, I could not only fly from one place to another for a bird’s-eye view, I could zoom down and plant my feet on the ground with the entire Earth encompassing my view.

I don’t use the word “breathtaking” in headlines often. But when you find yourself towering over a detailed recreation of San Francisco, or standing eye-level with the top of the Eiffel Tower, or watching the Sun set and the Milky Way rise over the plateaus of Monument Valley, it’s an easy choice.

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