You have surely heard about virtual reality (VR). But it is unlikely that you have experienced it.
After you have read the following article and followed my call to action, you will be much closer to VR than before. VR is something you have to experience to understand.
VR is a special kind of high information density, because the screen fills up the entire world around, above and below you. Try to imagine being able to fly around in an artificial landscape. That is my dream since I generated my first 3D simulation of a pipe, on a Commodore PET 2001 computer, in the year of 1979.
What Virtual Reality (VR) is
The basics are: put on a pair of goggles. Then watch highly detailed videos. These videos are interactive. You move your head right, left, up or down, and the view and sound will follow, like in real life.
As computers get faster and data storage gets cheaper, VR will become more widespread.
Computer Hardware is Only one Side of the VR Coin
The more important aspect is the VR contents. VR contents are still rare in the Internet.
But there comes Dr. Google again.
Google Maps comes with a 3D section and it is free, you can access it here https://www.google.com/intl/en_in/earth/
There is also a VR version of Google Earth, here https://vr.google.com/earth/ but you need special expensive gear for it if you want a decent result. Check out this short intro video for more information on Google Earth VR:
There is a world of difference between looking at a screen in Google Earth 3D mode and being somewhere in Google Earth VR, able to look up and down and around. The same Google street view that you are used to is used in Google Earth VR, but instead of seeing a keyhole of the 360-degree camera on top of a car, you are inside the picture taken, and you are able to look around.
The first time I used Google Earth VR with a professional gear, I was in the center of a 360-degree picture of Manhattan, standing and able to look up and down the street, overhead, right at the houses that I know from my last business trip there. The Google street view – in comparison – is like looking through a keyhole or mail slot.
Please note that in Google Earth you are looking at real photos, and not at a computer simulation!
There are ways to get a taste of VR with a gear for securing a smartphone to your head but that does not work properly. I am not yet ready for the extra expenditure in order to fully enjoy Google Earth VR at home, with a gaming computer. But soon I will be ready for it. It will cost me 5,000 US$, the same as any other good computer costed for the past 40 years.
I live with Google Earth 3D for Now
Google Earth 3D is good enough for me, for the time being. Here is what you need to do.
Start the Google Chrome Internet browser. Google Earth will only work with the Chrome Internet Browser. You can install it without having administrator rights!
Then select a Google Earth destination that has already been rendered for 3D views from the following list, which are my favorites:
Once you have reached your destination, start to move around. The most important piece of equipment for that is a classic optical mouse with a roller wheel on the top:
Only four (4) Movements in Google Earth 3D
First, click and hold the left mouse button anywhere on the screen, and then move it left and right, with the left mouse button held. This will linearly move you left and right,
Second, click and hold the left mouse button anywhere on the screen, and then move it up and down, with the left mouse button held. This will linearly move you in and out. The same will result from rolling the roller wheel of your mouse.
Now it gets a bit tricky. We need the shift key of your keyboard for moving up and down and for rotating the world around you.
Third, hold the shift key pressed down and roll the roller wheel. This will move you up and down, like a helicopter landing and starting.
Forth, hold the shift key pressed down AND click and hold the left mouse button anywhere on the screen AND THEN move the mouse left and right, with the left mouse button held. This will rotate the world around you.
That´s it. You are good to move around.
What Else you Need to Know
There is this control panel at the lower right corner. The most important button is the 2D/3D switch:
And there is a control panel on the left side of the screen. The most important features are the search field and the “feeling lucky” button, here:
That´s it. You are Google Earth 3D ready.
What You can Do with your New Knowledge
Check out your favorite holiday destinations from the past. You will be surprised what memories will come up.
Check out your next holiday destination. You will be surprised how boring that can be.
Create a bucket list of a few really good destinations after having checked them out carefully.
What I am Expecting for the Near VR Future
Museum tours will be great, I would like to have a guided tour through the Deutsches Museum in Munich, without going there again. I had a two years membership while I studied engineering, and I lived in walking distance from it. I spent about one month there, taken all visits together.
I want to VR fly from Pedra de Gavea in Rio de Janeiro, something that I would never do in reality. Today, that would mean risking your very life.
I heard that London walking tours are great if you have a really good tour guide who is informative and entertaining. I want that, but on VR.
I want to get my travel time down. And VR will help me to do so. VR is even better in some respects: the view from Mt. Fuji to the base is clear as far as the eye can see, where a real traveller will often look down on clouds.
VR will make Tourism Great Again
It will show wonderful places to visit. There will be many niche tours.
VR will make this market immense.
Call to Action
Read this article on a desktop computer with a decent mouse and check out the Google Earth 3D links stated above.
You can be proud of yourself, you have learned something new today.
Martin “Fly me to the <Munich>” Schweiger