Take a VR Tour Inside the White House with Google Video

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Virtual Reality tour of the White House? You better believe it.

“Tour the White House in virtual reality.” That sounds unbelievably cool, but maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s really not that exciting. The technology behind it is quite fascinating: Google has a camera rig known as “Jump,” which has 16 camera modules that are arranged in a circular formation. For the full experience, you’ll need Google Cardboard, and an Android phone, which you would put into the contraption and then place on your head for a virtual reality experience. Overall, it cost the tech titan $15,000 to set up the experience, though that also allows content creators to access Google’s assembler software, which is capable of cobbling different video feeds to form one 360-degree video.

You can also simply play the video on YouTube – on desktop or mobile – and use instead the panning features to look around on your iPhone or iPad. According to Google, this won’t be the first and only time it will be releasing such content to users. “We’ll continue to release new videos that highlight the potential of Jump,” said a Google spokesman in an email to VentureBeat. “However, we are looking to get the tech in the hands of more creators.” Then again, the guided tour hasn’t exactly gone down well with everyone. “Unfortunately, this video sort of feels like you’re a 10-year-old being dragged down the corridors by an underpaid tour guide,” said Gizmodo‘s Mario Aguilar. “But this could have been amazing,” he added, complaining that the video, apart from being blurry, didn’t have much useful information despite its potential.

Google revealed there is also a Google Expedition version of the five-minute video so that teachers can use it to guide Cardboard-equipped groups around the building. Ever since it was launched in September, Google Expeditions has kept a low profile, quietly equipping schools with Google Cardboard VR viewers and smartphones. The company has optimized both the size of the rig and its arrangment in order to work with the Jump assembler, which is advanced computer vision that enables the 16 pieces of video to stitched into one seamless stereoscopic VR video. Jump, Google’s official platform for making 360-videos with 16-camera VR setup launched in a similar way, with the first official videos popping up only last month. Using this technology, Google Jump can assemble 360-degree videos that allow you to fully take in a scene rather than just view one particular camera angle.

Expeditions teams will visit schools around the world, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Singapore and Denmark. Each team will give teachers a complete Expeditions kit with everything they need to take their students on journeys anywhere without leaving the classroom.

There are plenty of glitches and technical issues that Google has to work on, but one thing they completely nailed: presenting a nearly seamless panorama, thanks to Jump’s stitching software.

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