A couple weeks ago we wrote up the new Google Maps Street View images for the San Diego Zoo. Definitely neat. It's hard to see, though, how those images could ever be transformed into anything "realistic." Ditto for the new Street View images that Google just posted for some of the world's better ski slopes and Winter Games arenas. They're eye-catching, and it's cool that they were able to mount their GPS-enabled camera on top of a snowmobile, but everything still has the feel of a standard picture gallery.
But take all of that Street View stuff, mix it with some Google Earth technology, and bake the combination into a full-blown virtual reality chamber - that's a different story. And that's what Google engineers have been doing with their Liquid Galaxy project, a kind of gazebo that they've been showing off at tech conventions. An upgraded version just made an appearance at the TED conference. Via Mashable, it does kind of look mind-blowing doesn't it:
Keep in mind, by the way, that all of the actual images are publicly available. Since it's Google Earth it also includes Google Ocean, which means you can explore underwater canyons. The hardware, for all that it looks pricey, is also basically off-the-shelf technology. The only trick is configuring everything to render smoothly, and how hard can that be? All of which is a roundabout way of saying: when do we get one of these in our living room? Please say soon.