Virtual reality on your phone… well, kind of…

So we all remember the early days of Virtual Reality (VR) right?  Those bold claims that before long we’d be donning headsets that delivered an electronic world to our senses almost indistinguishable from reality…

Well, okay… we’re not quite there just yet.  The bulky headsets and haptic-feedback gloves never really crossed over into mainstream culture.  But the goal of transporting people through computer-generated experience hasn’t disappeared yet.

To such an end, we recently developed a full 360-degree panoramic view of a venue – as part of a client’s new website we created.  The client is question is the Royal Horticultural Halls, a famous venue in central London.

They wanted to display the size and beauty of their Lindley Hall in a way that imparted as much sensation of being there as possible.  Through both Flash (for PCs) and HTML5/CSS3 (for smartphones) we developed the following navigable 360 degree panoramic.

Virtual tour link panel

Things get really engaging when viewed on a smartphone or tablet – set the gyroscope to active, expand to full-screen view, then move your device around.  It will appear as if you’re looking through your mobile device into the room itself!

The photography used to achieve this isn’t anything too sophisticated (or expensive), just a standard fish-eye panoramic shot can be used.  Most of the magic happens through the stitching of this photography to 3D map.

Going beyond what we’ve done here, we can create full 3D tours – including a map that appears in the top-left of the viewer with clickable locations, as well as including clickable hot-spots within the view (for instance brining up additional info or downloads of items clicked).  Beyond this, sound can be brought into the scenes – and this can be pinned to a specific location, further adding to this sensation of being there.

So if you want to create a virtual tour, or perhaps present a location with a bit more wow factor then get in touch – we can’t promise the old-style VR helmets and gloves, but it’s impressive what an iPhone can do in this regard.