Trip of a lifetime: Google collections

From the colourful depths of the Grand Canyon to the dizzying heights of the Burj Khalifa, the Street View Collections project by Google takes internet surfers on a mind-boggling journey around the world

Climbing to the 2,717-foot top of the Burj Khalifa is no longer the preserve of the action hero Tom Cruise character in the iconic film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Through the technology of Google’s innovative Street View, fans of the vertiginous architecture can ascend spider-like from the comfort of their own home.

The Burj Khalifa is the first skyscraper Google has added to its inspiring 3D Street View Collection and the first Arab World location featured there. The process of capturing the entire building, including a 360-degree panoramic view from the very top took several days. Features of note are the world’s highest swimming pool on the building’s 76th floor, and the vertigo-inducing view from the highest room on the 163rd floor. The 'At The Top' observation deck on floor 124 normally costs visitors US$27 to access but can now be viewed online for free.

Since launching in 2007, Street View has brought 3,000 cities across 50 countries close to anyone with an internet connection. The Burj Khalifa now joins other landmarks, including Paris’ Eiffel Tower and London’s Big Ben.

After fifty years of seminal galactic journeys NASA has now ended flights into outer space; however, the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA, still holds an abiding fascination. Wannabe astronauts are big fans of the 6,000 images of the facility that make up NASA’s comprehensive entry into the Street View Collection. Virtual tourists find themselves at the bottom of the launch pad, in the vehicle assembly building and gazing in wonder at the enormous shuttle engines.

It’s not just man-made wonders that this technology gives us a portal into either. Street View Collection effortlessly lifts virtual trekkers onto the slopes of Mount Fuji, the beautiful Unesco World Heritage Site in Japan. Earlier this year Google sent its Street View Trekker equipment 12,389 feet above sea level on the back of a team member climbing Mount Fuji. The perfect cone-shaped volcano has been a muse to artists and poets for centuries and with its listing in the online collection, its set to inspire the world at large.

Street View Collections can take people into top-secret locations, swimming with awe-inspiring fish in the oceans or scaling the walls of the world’s tallest building. So if it’s adventure that you are after, forget the backpack, the hotel room and the holiday insurance: sit back down on the sofa and surf.