Virtual reality (VR) is gaining popularity at a fast pace. While it is more commonly used for experiences such as games, it can also serve as a means of virtually “visiting” places viewers may not have the opportunity to visit in person. For example, Samsung recently released a series of 360-degree videos to promote the launch of the Samsung Gear 360 that included a time-lapse video of South Korea, a skydiving experience, and a video of a Paramotor ride in Rio. VR lets viewers experience things in immersive ways that traditional video never could.
Now, Google has released five 360-degree videos that give users virtual tours of national parks across the United States. The series is in celebration of the 100 anniversary of the National Parks Service and takes viewers on a journey across five states to see wonders like fjords and coral reefs. The videos explore five National Parts across the U.S. including Kenai Fjords National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Dry Tortugas National Park. Over the course of the videos, viewers will have the opportunity to explore tunnels inside a volcano, climb into a crevasse in a glacier and more. Unfortunately, these videos are not yet available in true VR with stereoscopic 3D, however, you can view them on your mobile device, and move the device to move around within the scene, so they do provide at least a basic VR experience.
Google seems to be quite interested in pushing VR forward. Aside from making these types of videos to demonstrate what it is capable of, they have made efforts to make it more accessible with Google Cardboard, a series of very inexpensive alternatives to high-end VR headsets, and this fall, they will introduce their own VR platform called Daydream. On that note, these videos help Google generate interest in VR by demonstrating what it is capable of on the beautiful backdrops of National Parks. To view the videos, just follow the source link below, or open the Google Arts and Culture app on your Android or iOS mobile device.