Google has released a brand new educational map app for kids, Verne: The Himalayas, to get little ones excited about exploring the world around them from the comfort of their homes using 3D imagery. Using an adorable, 500- ft tall yeti named Verne, the app allows users to "run up Mt Everest in seconds, skate across icy lakes, chase yaks, discover bits of information, ride a jetpack, play Himalayan instruments, and more".
"For years, Google Maps has been adding imagery from all over the world," Amar Gandhi and J R Schmidt from Google's Creative Labs wrote in a blog post on 3 August. "A few of us started wondering if this 3D imagery could make learning about the world a bit more fun for kids."
"We started playing with quick prototypes, and even brainstormed with our own kids to get inspired by their sense of curiosity."
Powered by the Unity Game Engine, Verne: The Himalayas is currently dubbed an "experimental app" that gives users' control of a tiny friendly yeti named after French novelist Jules Verne, best known for his science-fiction adventure novels such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the world in Eighty Days.
Using a virtual joystick and button to make the little critter jump, kids can learn about and explore the crevices of the Himalayan landscape made from Google Maps' 3D imagery, from Hillary Step to the Everest Base Camp.
Guiding you across the Himalayas, the interactive app also features goals, visual prompts and a friendly voice to help kids learn more about the history, geography and significance of the world's highest mountain range. Currently available only on Android, the tech giant has not yet announced whether the app will release additional versions for other platforms as well.
Verne: The Himalayas is now available for free download from the Google Play Store.