Not Quite Full Virtual Reality, but Google Getting Close

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

 Virtual Reality
Google Maps has further enhanced its mapping efforts recently to provide more detailed maps of sites around the world and take users to more exotic locations like snow-covered mountains and underwater coral reefs via Street View. Now using a backpack-mounted camera system, users can explore stunning 360-degree panoramic images on a virtual hike through the Grand Canyon.
While Google Maps and the Street View function do not provide the totally immersive experience promised by Ray Kurzweil in The Singularity Is Near, the system does provide ample means for exploration and escapism.

In recent months, Google Maps has advanced its mapping efforts to provide more detailed maps of world sites and take users to more exotic locations like snow-covered mountains and underwater coral reefs via Street View.

Japanese temples are some of our favorites right now. The Kiyomizu-dera Terra temple in Kyoto has continuously attracted worshippers from among the populace since the Heian Period as "Kiyomizu-Kannon." The temple contains buildings from the 15th to 17th centuries, including Jishu - jinja Shrine.

Another benefit of using Google Maps, is there aren't crowds in many of the historic sites that can be visited.  Even if they are there, it almost make the use of Google Maps more immersive.

Google Maps and other applications give you the freedom to leap from location to location around the globe.  Using the application with a tablet provides a more immersive experience if the active view is enabled.  This makes use of the gyroscopes in your smart phone or table PC like a Nexus 7 to actively pan the view as you move your device.

Google is putting more and more content into Maps and is now releasing panoramic imagery of one of the world’s most spectacular national monuments: the Grand Canyon. These beautiful, interactive images cover more than 75 miles of trails and surrounding roads, making our map of this area even more comprehensive, accurate and easy to use than ever before.

Take a walk down the narrow trails and exposed paths of the Grand Canyon: hike down the famous Bright Angel Trail, gaze out at the mighty Colorado River, and explore scenic overlooks in full 360-degrees. You’ll be happy you’re virtually hiking once you get to the steep inclines of the South Kaibab Trail. And rather than drive a couple hours to see the nearby Meteor Crater, a click of your mouse or tap of your finger will transport you to the rim of this otherworldly site.

This breathtaking imagery collection was made possible with the Trekker. The Google team strapped on the Android-operated 40-pound backpacks carrying the 15-lens camera system and wound along the rocky terrain on foot, enduring temperature swings and a few muscle cramps along the way. Together, more than 9,500 panoramas of this masterpiece of nature are now available on Google Maps.

As impressive as Google Maps already is, it is interesting to consider how this technology will evolve over the coming years.  As the experience is interfaced via new devices and the capture method becomes more augmented, detailed and up-to-date (possibly using live images from drones) the applications for mapping are endless.

SOURCE  Google

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