Skip to main content

No parachute required: Google develops skydiving simulator 'Map Diving'

No parachute required: Google develops skydiving simulator 'Map Diving'

Share this story

Last year at Google's I/O developer conference in San Francisco, founder Sergey Brin gave what's been called the "mother of all demos," a keynote speech that involved a team of skydivers wearing Google Glass landing on the roof of the conference center as he spoke. For this year's I/O taking place next week, Google wants to one-up that by putting I/O attendees in virtual parachutes and letting them skydive anywhere on Earth.

Google and a partner company have posted new videos showing off an incredibly immersive new skydiving simulator they developed, nicknamed "Map Diving," which displays views of Google Maps on seven gigantic screens, and lets control their fall to the virtual ground simply by moving their bodies as they would if they were really skydiving.

The system was developed by Google and Instrument, a digital creative agency from Portland, Oregon. It was made with Chrome and the Google Maps API, and relies on motion-sensing controllers from Asus. From the preview videos, Map Diving looks to be one of the most entertaining, if wildly impractical, uses of Google Maps data yet. We'll be sure to check it out at I/O next week to tell you how it performs in person. (The 'diving' portion of the full Google demo below starts at 1:15.)

Correction: A previous version of this post said that the Map Diving simulator relied on Microsoft's Kinect for the motion controller aspect, but Instrument informed us that this is incorrect, it actually only uses Asus motion control technology.