You can now visit New York's elaborate department store holiday window displays without fighting a billion other tourists. Google's "Window Wonderland" app lets you visit Barney's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's and 15 other stores. The company says it created a new technique to stitch hundreds of high-res photos into "rich, lifelike panoramas." Viewed on a Daydream or other VR headset, "you can even be surrounded by the sounds and sights of the city streets, taking in the storefront view alongside other onlookers," Google says.
Some highlights are Lord & Taylor's "Enchanted Forest" with ice skating bunnies and fishing raccoons, a weirdly unseasonable jungle theme from Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales' glowing chandeliers and a slightly nightmarish Christmas candy-inspired couture theme from Saks Fifth Avenue. Barney's, meanwhile has installations from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and another from visual artist Nick cave around race and gender in sculpture. Both are in support of the #LovePeaceJoyProject charity campaign.
You can listen to audio guides from window designers and learn how they built the intricate, detailed contraptions featured in the displays. And in the spirit of the season, Google is trying to make money by pointing you to a special "shopping gift window" section of the app. To check it out, hit the website, and if you're on a smartphone, tap the VR button to view it on a headset.