White House VR Tour Showcases Presidential Holiday Celebration

A new White House VR tour has been unveiled by Google, and it is particularly unique. For the uninitiated or technologically impaired, the VR in White House VR tour stands for Virtual Reality.

The White House VR tour put together by Google is the first ever of its kind taken in the Presidential residence, combining static pictures, movies, and a little narration. The White House VR tour focuses on the holiday decorations currently put up in the White House.

White House Holiday VR Tour [Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]If you’re not familiar with these VR tours, you’ll be immersed from the first minute you try one. Disney recently released a short VR tour that offered fans a chance to explore parts of Disneyland, and an early video released from the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens also exhibited the new VR technology.

So how does the new White House VR tour work? Google uses what it calls a Jump Camera Rig that combines the use of 16 different cameras in a complete circle. A computer then takes all 16 of those camera shots and assembles all of them into one seamless video layer that makes something like the White House VR tour possible. The computer operation ensures that none of the seams between the different camera layers are detectable, and the recording’s advanced stereo audio ensures that the presentation is encompassing to the viewer.

The White House VR tour can be experienced via viewers offered by Google for a completely immersive experience. However, those viewers aren’t necessary. If you just use your laptop or PC, a viewer can take the White House VR tour by just moving their mouse around the screen. If you hold your smartphone out in front of you, you can move the phone around in accordance with your sight line, and the screen will react making it seem like you’re in control of what you’re looking at. However, using the Google cardboard viewer, cuts off your peripheral vision and gets your eyes to completely focus on the screen of your smartphone, which in effect makes the VR experience complete.

Google Cardboard [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]While Google boasts that its White House VR tour utilizes the highest quality video, the White House VR tour feels a little stressed, and even blurry, in spots. The five minute White House VR tour also doesn’t seem to make much of the VR experience, relying too heavily on static pictures that only offer the viewer a 180 degree experience.

Gizmodo’s Mario Aguilar probably sums up the White House VR tour best.

“The White House is a place plenty of people will never go and a virtual tour is theoretically enlightening. Unfortunately, this video sort of feels like you’re a 10-year-old being dragged down the corridors by an underpaid tour guide.”

Take a look at the White House VR tour for yourself and see what you think.

The new technology that is used for the White House VR tour has some exciting new possibilities. First and foremost will most likely be in the entertainment industry. Advanced 3D technology has remained steadfast in worldwide cinemas after making a resurgence over a decade ago. Imagine a future where you sit down in a movie theater, don a headset like the Google cardboard viewer, and lose yourself in a story in which you have the ability to look around yourself a complete 360 degrees. Another entertainment avenue that might explode via this VR technology is through video games. Being able to experience and interact with a game on a level that is completely immersible is most certainly in our future.

Have you taken the holiday tour of the presidential mansion? What did you think of the White House VR tour?

[Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers]