The ancient lost city of Petra, an archaeological wonder lost to the ages, is now yours to explore firsthand, complete with a tour guide and interactive bits, if you happen to own a Google Cardboard-compliant VR headset. Although, the tour is also available on phones and desktops thanks to Google Maps and Street View. The tour of Petra does not require particularly powerful hardware, and should work via Cardboard on just about any modern phone, paired with just about any off the shelf headset. The VR tour takes place on a set path, and allows you to explore landmarks throughout the city at your leisure.
The VR version of the tour begins in a natural gorge, known as The Siq (shown above). This is the entrance-way to the vast Nebatean city in Jordan. From there, viewers are whisked off on a journey through the main landmarks of the city, all the way to the other end of the city. The experience is powered by Street View and is mostly the same as the desktop version, but is far smoother and more intuitive thanks to VR optimization and the ability to control the tour just by looking at waypoints. Narrated bits of historical and archaeological information await the viewer at each individual landmark, and at each stop on the tour the user can look around and properly take in the sights.
This is the latest in a long series of cultural and historical applications for VR that Google has put out for their Cardboard platform. Somewhat basic experiences like this, essentially amounting to VR translations of experiences that would work on other platforms, are common Cardboard fare. As Daydream becomes more mainstream, it seems that Google plans to continue to pursue cultural enrichment as a use case for VR, and will be upping their game with more immersive and detailed experiences on that track. Cardboard, meanwhile, will likely continue to receive support for new experiences such as Google's Spotlight Stories and educational content for the foreseeable future. Those interested in checking out Petra can do so by heading through the link below, with a Cardboard-enabled headset or not.