You knew that the future of travel would eventually involve in-flight WiFi, trips into space, and an app for every tourist need under the sun. But did you ever imagine you’d be able to experience the up-close and personal characteristics of a city or land mark without ever leaving the confines of your computer desk?
Google Maps is making it possible. The search giant’s latest project, Night Walk in Marseille, is a virtual tour through one of the famous French city’s eclectic neighborhoods. Cours Julien is renowned for its energizing atmosphere and unique displays of street art, and by opening just one window in your Internet browser you can immerse yourself in all of it.
Using your mouse to follow the pre-determined route, your guides Julie and Christophe will lead you through the city’s streets. Each step (or should I say click?) forward reveals a new “hotspot,” like The De Gaulle by Mister P or a panoramic view of Notre Dame.
Of course, nothing will ever trump the precious experience of actually journeying to a new destination, but Google’s impressive technology and impeccable attention to detail make for a pretty immersive experience.
According to the Night Walk FAQ several different Google products were used to create the interactive program:
“The Night Walk experience is built on top of a variety of Google products, and integrates with several others, to tell the story of Julie and the city of Marseille. It features a customized Google Maps integration – built upon 360 spheres – that allows you to follow Julie’s route with familiar navigation. The walk itself is augmented via the Google Knowledge Graph, which adds contextual data and information pulled from the vast semantic database at our disposal. Mobile users are treated to mobile-first functionalities, which use the Google Places API to pull in local data based on their location. Everything lives and loads in the cloud, running on top of the Google App Engine.”
The tour features everything from videos and music to breathtaking photos and touristy fun facts about the city and its culture. Just like an in-real-life tour, you’ll want to sightsee slowly in order to appreciate all of the little details. So plug in your earbuds, sit back, relax, and click yourself happily through the city’s electrifying atmosphere.