The future is now. Well, for those folks who have plunked down the green for an HTC Vive VR headset (and have the hardware to run it) anyway.
If you’ve ever read the cyberpunk classic “Snowcrash” you’ve probably been waiting for a version of “Earth” similar to what you see in the book. There, the hero (named Hiro because of course he is) is in a VR landscape of his own creation when he encounters the “Earth” application. He reaches out and zooms down through the clouds, able to fly close enough to make out buildings, ships, etc. Of course, in the book the footage is all live, but Google’s version of Earth (static, saved content & virtual reality 3D) is close enough for the moment. However, until recently we’ve had to experience it in flatland. Boring simulated 3D on a screen in front of us. Like peasants.
Rejoice HTC owners, because now Google’s Earth is in VR and holy shit is it ever in VR. You can fly between buildings, among mountains, along the Amazon river (which is not a river you can buy online with free shipping).
How much does this marvel cost? In Snowcrash it was apparently so expensive it fell into the “if you need to ask you can’t afford it” category. In our case, reality wins because you can go download it for free from Steam.
Don’t have an HTC Vive yet? Head over to the Microsoft Store on Black Friday and get it on sale!
(Other VR platforms will be released eventually but for now they have to wait outside in the rain.)