Google Maps’ Street View, the on-the-ground way to explore any neighborhood, is brilliant at giving you a new way to check out locations around the world. For instance, there are some geeky virtual tours you’ll love, like Stanford University or CERN.
But you might be surprised to know that Street View goes beyond geography alone. You can actually take a tour inside fictional places, historical landmarks and objects, and several other things that you’d never have thought of.
And if you’re of the geeky persuasion — which a MakeUseOf reader is likely to be — then we’ve got a treat for you. Here are five virtual tours that you’ll love, spanning fiction, reality, and downright coolness.
As one of the longest running geek TV shows of all time, Doctor Who has been entertaining fans for 50 years. It’s only fitting then to start off this virtual tour with the legendary time travel machine from the show, TARDIS. It’s one of the coolest Easter eggs from Google’s engineers.
Search TARDIS in London on Maps or go the title link above to be transported to a street in London, where you’ll spot a familiar blue telephone box. “Enter” the box by using the navigation buttons or the up/down arrow keys.
Inside, TARDIS’s advanced tech shows how it’s a much bigger room than the phone booth you saw outside. You can explore two platforms worth of Who-related artefacts, and even play with the console. It’s absolutely brilliant and a perfect replica of what you’ve seen on TV.
Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley
Geeks love Harry Potter. Engineers have even made some significant progress on making magical Potter gadgets into real tech. So when Warner Bros’ Studio Tour in the UK made a Potter world and they made a version of Diagon Alley, Google got its team to turn it into a Street View project.
Diagon Alley has been reconstructed from the description in the books as well as their depiction in the movies, with shops selling all kinds of magical objects lining the cobbled pathway. Unfortunately, you can’t enter any of the shops, but the depiction and the details are wonderful nonetheless.
You can visit the alley by clicking the link above, or searching “Diagon Alley” in Google Maps, choosing Street View, and clicking the yellow dot near Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden.
Technology changes the way we fly, but sometimes, it’s the flight experience itself that can use an upgrade. Emirates airline’s Airbus A380 fleet is acknowledged to be one of the premier luxury experiences for flights, and you can now take a peek at what that gives you.
The Street View experience starts you off at the onboard lounge with its decadent bar and hospitality area, accompanied by seating and a large television. Go inside towards the business class seats, where you can see what it’s like to mix business and pleasure.
Finally, head to the far back to witness what the high life is really like as you catch a glimpse of the private suite, complete with sliding doors for your privacy.
Google’s latest ambitious Street View project is mind-boggling. Miniatur Wunderland is the world’s largest model train set, replicating miniature scenes from Germany, Austria, Hamburg, America, and other recognizable global landmarks like the Alps mountain range. So Google put a tiny Street View car through the roads of this colossal tiny achievement, and the results are spectacular.
City life, small town life, train life, airports—the Miniatur Wunderland team created incredible scenes throughout its model set, all of which the tiny car captured. For example, check out the farmer’s market at Knuffingen, which could be a bustling scene from real life if those humanoids looked a little more lifelike.
First, take a tour through the wonderland that is Wunderland, and then start panning and zooming into each of these scenes. You’ll find so many small moments of delight, much like discovering Easter eggs in Google products.
Paul Allen’s Living Computer Museum
Paul Allen is most famous in tech through the history of Microsoft as the co-founder with the iconic Bill Gates. But just to get us all to appreciate the history of computers and how they evolved, Allen started the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, which showcases vintage computers and various operating systems.
At some point, it was the next logical step to turn the museum itself into a part of digital history by immortalizing it through a 3D virtual tour. While it isn’t a Google production, it works more or less like how Street View does. Use the arrow keys or your mouse to move around and look at things, and click Dollhouse or Floor Plan to get an overview of where everything is.
It’s not interactive, unfortunately, so you can’t actually play with any of the various exhibits. But hey, at least you can access classic operating systems in your browser anyway. It’s just really cool to see how Allen’s homage has come to life, especially for those who probably won’t make a trip to Seattle to see it.
Show Us a Geeky Tour!
This isn’t an exhaustive list of geek-loving virtual tours, not even by a long shot. Nonetheless, we’d love to know which of these was your favorite and why.
We’ve already talked about others like the Kennedy Space Center or CERN, so tell us about something we haven’t seen or should be waiting for. Here’s our contribution: a few Star Trek fans are recreating the entire Enterprise-D starship!