Getaway (South Africa) - - ESCAPE TECH CULTURE -


The Card­board app gives you a fun in­tro­duc­tion to VR, but there’s not much in the way of video con­tent. How­ever, be­fore you dis­miss it, you may want to go on one of its ‘Ur­ban Hikes’: Tele­port to Paris, Venice, Tokyo, New York, Rome, Monte Carlo or Lon­don and wan­der around with a turn of your head and a click of a but­ton, or use Street View to go wher­ever you want. I spent a happy half-hour strolling through Rio look­ing for street art.


This was the best-de­signed app I tested, which also has some ex­cit­ing videos. Nav­i­ga­tion is done in VR, and good-qual­ity videos stream with­out a hitch. This is where you’ll find Javier Bar­dem among the pen­guins and the cata­ma­ran race. You can also stand guard over the last north­ern white rhi­nos on Earth, or leave the planet to do the world’s first space­walk as Rus­sian cos­mo­naut Alexey Leonov. Ear­phones are es­sen­tial.


The New York Times started pro­duc­ing VR con­tent three years ago, and even re­leased a 360 VR video ev­ery day for a year, so there are plenty of in­ter­est­ing VR clips and doc­u­men­taries here. If the app strug­gles to stream them, the videos are also avail­able for Card­board on YouTube. (Search for ‘New York Times VR’ and click the Card­board icon in the bot­tom cor­ner when play­back starts). High­lights in­clude the Antarc­tica se­ries, a jour­ney to the hottest place on Earth in Ethiopia, or the si­lence of the Hoh Rain­for­est in the USA.


There’s some fun con­tent here (such as a spine-chill­ing ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’ fea­tur­ing a gi­ant shark) and, again, if your Wi-Fi isn’t fast enough, you can find the videos on Dis­cov­ery’s VR YouTube chan­nel. Choose the TRVLR tab for travel con­tent, where you can fly an aero­plane on skis, join a ghost hunt in a Viet­namese jun­gle, zoom down the world’s long­est zi­pline in Ar­me­nia, and so on.


This is where I found the Faroe Is­lands and stood on their lonely, snow-cov­ered shores while be­ing ser­e­naded by a lo­cal folk band. You can also take your pick from a visit to the Spiti Val­ley in the Hi­malayas or the top of Mount Batur in Bali, among oth­ers.

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