Google first talked about Expeditions way back at I/O 2015, after which they began trying it out with a large number of classrooms worldwide. Using the magic of VR, Expeditions would allow educators to take their students on realistic escapades into far-off lands. At long last, Google is making the app available to anyone who wants it.
Using a viewer like Google Cardboard and a smartphone, people can go on (self-)guided tours of places like Machu Picchu, Antarctica, the International Space Station, and even the now-defunct studio of The Colbert Report.
To go as a group, it works like an old-fashioned LAN party. If you are all hooked up to the same Wi-Fi network, you can explore together. Teachers and narcissists can be designated the leader of the expedition.
In addition to the app, which may draw relatively broad interest, Google is marketing Expeditions Kits along with Best Buy. These kits are designed to get an entire class up and going. Included are 30 “student devices” (AKA some kind of Android phone), 30 Mattel Viewers, 3 Sabrent Rapid Chargers, an Insignia “Teacher Device” which would appear to be a tablet, an unspecified model TP-Link Router, and a Pelican case for all the gear. You also get the coveted “white glove service” from Best Buy.
How much for the Expeditions Kit? $9,999. As the promotional material reads, “helping your students explore new places and ideas has never been easier or more affordable.” Well, I suppose that’s true if you’re comparing to the price of buying a Magic School Bus.