A tour from Abbey Road to Mars, all through ‘mixed’ reality

31 Mar 2016

Google and Microsoft have paired up with two iconic locations – one, notably, very far away – to bring ‘mixed reality’ tours to the masses.

Abbey Road: A great album, a great poster and a great cultural reference point for fans of musicians like The Beatles, Kate Bush, Duran Duran, Enya, U2, The Zombies, Madness and more.

It’s also a great tourist trap in London, drawing thousands of tourists every year. You can live stream the iconic zebra crossing outside, buy books on the venue, watch documentaries and even look inside using Google’s Inside Abbey Road site.

However, Google isn’t happy with just that, even though 2m people have now peered inside the historic front door. So now, using an app, Google Cardboard and a compatible smartphone, you can enjoy a fully immersive VR trip inside.

The app is ready on Android right now (iOS is on the way), with the nine-part tour hosted by Giles Martin, son of the recently-deceased George Martin, the ‘fifth Beatle’.

The original, year-old site was assembled from 150 different 360-degree panoramic shots, with studios one to three featured.

Space for more

But the increased accessibility for fans of sites beyond them does not end there. For over in the US, NASA is working on what it calls a ‘mixed reality’ experience for fans to get a tour of Mars.

Using Microsoft’s Hololens, holograms of Buzz Aldrin and the Curiosity Rover that’s wheeling away right now on the Red Planet will soon take visitors to the Kennedy Space Centre on a tour of all the key sites.

This is all thanks to a programme called OnSight, which NASA and Microsoft have been working on behind the scenes for some time now, allowing for the Curiosity team to better understand where their robot is working.

“As we prepare to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, the public will now be able to preview the experience the astronauts will have as they walk and study the Martian surface,” said Dave Lavery, programme executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Abbey Road image via Andy Lidstone/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic