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Verne: The Himalayas, Google’s latest attempt at making education, a bit more fun

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After Mickey Mouse, Dora and many other educational characters, Google is now trying its hands at its own animated tutor. Enter Verne, the tech giant’s newest innovation that uses Google Maps’ 3D imagery of the Himalayas, combines it with a bit of gameplay and makes the idea of zooming around the 3D scene more fun and engaging.

For those of you curious, Verne is a 500 foot Yeti. But before you Yeti-hunters put on your boots to catch this guy, let me tell you that he’s no ordinary creature. Verne is as talented as they get. He can climb up to the top of different mountains, go skating on icy lakes, chase yaks and other animals, ride a jetpack, play Himalayan instruments and a whole lot more. And he is going to be the host that will engage young minds and teach them about the Himalayas.

While the whole app may seem like a game, it delivers a handful of interesting info to your child, too. The app uses  a disembodied voice that points out little facts that children can listen to and learn from.

The app was designed by Google using its existing tech and data from Maps and Earth that allow you to view skyscrapers, landmarks, natural wonders and more, all in 3D. To come up with the whole gameplay experience, Google joined hands with Unity, which provides the engine for the app to run on.

Here’s what Google has to say about Verne:

Verne: The Himalayas is a new app that invites you to explore Google Maps’ 3D imagery of the Himalayas alongside a 500 foot Yeti named Verne. As Verne, you can run up Mt. Everest in seconds, skate across icy lakes, chase yaks, discover bits of information, ride a jetpack, play traditional Himalayan instruments, and more.

Apparently, Verne was designed as an experiment by a group of developers who tested the concept with their own children. For now, the app is restricted only to the Himalayas and Google hasn’t yet talked about expanding its coverage. It will be interesting to see this experiment turn into a full-time service, though.

The app is currently available for Android only and can be downloaded from Google Play right here.


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