One of the benefits of virtual reality technology is that it can transport users to remote places, they might be real but inaccessible sites or even places coming from someone’s imagination. Google’s Street View is one tool that could take you to distant places around the Earth such as the depths of the ocean or much higher places like the Mont Blanc mountain ranges. Of course, users can also see much nearer and mundane places with Street View, hence its name, as it can be used to see the fa§ade of a certain building or the surrounding streets from a specific address. Some landmarks are also available, from the ancient city of Petra to Stonehenge. Now, these two technologies have combined to create an immersive experience in Samsung’s Gear VR.
StreetView VR is available for the Oculus Rift and now it’s compatible with Samsung’s VR headset. StreetView VR is not actually created by Google, but it uses Google’s Street View imagery. Last year, Google updated their dedicated Street View app with support for their super affordable VR headset called Google Cardboard, and while it’s more immersive, it doesn’t provide a very different experience than the one you would get on a PC. StreetView VR, on the other hand, provides better capabilities as it is integrated with Wikipedia, so it can show facts and full articles about some of the places that are being displayed.
To search for a certain place, users can use their own voice, but if the place is hard to pronounce or users would just like to try a different input method, there’s also an on-screen keyboard available. Another useful feature is the ability to share a trip session to a specific place, so multiple users can communicate through the built-in chat, additionally, users can add bookmarks to places they would like to go in the future. While users can enjoy 360° imageries, it doesn’t feature real 3D images, as Google would have to update them to create such effect. Still, the new way to control the app should be nice and there are many places to visit so, for now, it is as close as visiting those places as it gets.