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VR technology gives new meaning to 'holidaying at home'

21.07.2022 09:36 AM
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VR technology gives new meaning to 'holidaying at home'
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VR technology gives new meaning to 'holidaying at home'

Virtual reality technologies are currently invading the world of tourism due to the outbreak of the Corona pandemic and long periods of closure to air traffic; where one can climb Mount Everest, visit a museum in New York City, or dive across coral reefs in the ocean while sitting on the sofa in the living room.

Various companies and organizations have taken an interest in providing virtual tourism service; The Madrid Tourism Authority provides an opportunity for tourists to live a virtual experience in order to get to know the Spanish capital before the actual visit.

Usually a 30-minute tour is booked via the website, after which a video call is made via the Zoom application, and the tour guide walks with the tourist through the streets of Madrid, stopping at archaeological sites and famous tourist attractions, as well as places, which The tourist asks about it, and during the tour, the tourist sees 360-degree images, such as the pictures of the royal palace, which can be greatly enlarged.

3D environment

Although this service is very useful in getting a first impression of the city of Madrid before visiting it, it has little to do with virtual reality services; “Virtual reality tourism needs a 3D computer-generated environment, viewed by virtual reality glasses,” explained Armin Brych, a researcher at Kempten University of Applied Sciences.

In addition, virtual reality glasses or a virtual environment cave system, which is a room equipped with large screens, must be used, in order for the user to become surrounded by virtual reality. The researcher added: "The more immersed the tourist in the virtual world surrounding him, the more realistic the artificial experience." Experts call this case "immersion", but it requires ultra-clear images and exciting stories.

Although some tourism experts still see virtual tourism as a very limited sector, it has seen some development; where the company "Timeride" (Timeride) offers virtual time trips, so that the tourist can immerse himself in previous eras, and such offers are available in many German cities such as Cologne, Berlin, Dresden, Munich and Frankfurt.

"There are many large art museums that rely on virtual reality applications, where it is assumed that art shows will continue to exist, but technology is currently being relied on to provide social experiences," researcher Armin Brych pointed out.

Mixed reality

The German city of Essen offers a city tour using Mixed Reality technology, this tour is known as (Essen 1887); Tourists walk around the city, which is located in the Ruhr region, using the Global Positioning System (GPS) with special glasses.

Holograms appear in certain places of the tour, and people from 1887 appear talking to tourists, as old wagons run on the road around tourists, and mixed reality technology differs from virtual reality technology in that the tourist stands in tourist attractions and realizes the real world from around it too.

The spread of the Corona pandemic has led to the flourishing of virtual tourism offers, when tourists were unable to travel during strict closing times, many of them went to visit exotic places virtually to escape the pressures of daily life.

Armin Berish emphasized the growing confidence in digital products due to the Corona pandemic; where one is accustomed to using digital solutions in their daily life.

But Tristan Horeks looks with skepticism at digital tourism offers now, and the young researcher at the Future Institute added that virtual reality offers are no longer used at the same pace, which they were during the spread of the Corona pandemic, due to its strong promotion and the lack of alternatives to it.

Horeks added that although we currently live in a large digital world, we are natural people, and therefore it is not possible to convert everything into the digital world, especially things of an ideal nature in the real world, and explained that “visiting art museums is not just about seeing works of art, Rather, it is a general experience that, of course, is not provided by digital visits to art museum websites.”

However, Horex does not reject the use of virtual reality technology completely in the tourism sector, and added that "this technology will remain where its use is logical, for example, tourists can view 4 tourist destinations using virtual reality glasses before deciding on the tourist destination, which they want to actually travel to, Similar to the service, which the Spanish capital Madrid provides for tourists.

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