On October 15th, Google officially launched their new branch of street view that allows you to virtually explore Yosemite National Park and climb the stiff face of El Capitan. Looking out from two-thirds up the mountain you can see the prominent granite cliffs, rugged tree line and rivers that cut through it. The view constitutes one of America’s most iconic landscapes—a symbol of the cherished freedom to explore and constantly push boundaries.
Google recently launched a new branch of street view allowing users to experience Yosemite National Park in 360 degrees.
Google’s virtual tour of the park is yet another giant leap forward for the mega-company’s expanding interactive first-person map of the world. So far, their “street view” includes an unbelievable range of landscapes from Kenya’s wild plains, Caribbean aquatic life and coral beds, the Finnish northern lights, and national and state parks. Adding to the grandiosity of the project, you get to explore Yosemite’s famous rock walls alongside the world’s most infamous climbers, including Alex Honnold, who free-ascends the entire wall without ropes or a harness.
This new form of street view captures amazing first-person shots that most people will never see first hand.
Yosemite is a crown-jewel addition of American landscape for anyone across the pond to discover. Just as North Americans have the chance to virtually explore the remote terrain of other continents through the panoramic lens of Google’s street view cameras, “Our partnership with Google enables an unlimited number of people to experience Yosemite National Park in new and innovative ways,” said Yosemite National Park’s superintendent, Don Neubacher, to GrindTV.
This is just a glimpse into the future of virtual reality.
Google’s spectacular documentation of some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes is a small glimpse into the future of virtual reality. It’s unbelievably cool, but the thought of virtual experiences minimizing the want or need to explore these places in person is a bit terrifying. There was once a time when you could travel across the continent with absolutely no foresight into the beauty of the oncoming landscape other than a few black and white photos or a verbal description from someone who had already been. Imagine seeing mountains for the first time, had you not witnessed them on Google images prior. For some, seeing a landscape in person is increasingly becoming a celebration that can later be shared online, or a validation of what has already been seen online. Who goes on vacation anymore without some hard research on the net?
On the other hand, I suppose technology like Google’s Street View could inspire more people to visit places like Yosemite from abroad. Either way, if you can’t stop the growth of technology, you might as well enjoy the view.
WRITTEN BY: ROB HOFFMAN
(Main image by accidentalocelot via Flickr)