Virtual Tours

Definition of Virtual Tour

This site is solely dedicated to specific web pages containing virtual tour. Unfortunately, the pure meaning of the word "almost real" recently became a buzzword. "Virtual tour" in most web-designer's understanding is nothing but panoramic image, or just a html text with doubtful quality pictures. Do whatever to jump on a horse! Software industry sets up a standard for virtual tours which is most vividly presented in the most popular game ever - Myst. And web designers are far from that yet. I have to admit that some of panoramic images are done very nicely. Most important is the quality of photography. Without it no technology helps. No matter what you do, photography is the must.

Let us give a definition to a term "Virtual tour". Virtual tour is a computer presentation of a real place where geometrical properties of space are conveyed to a human so that he or she ( oh! ) feels as if he or she is actually there. Not very mathematical, on the level of common sense.

I understand that sense of word is changing, and just for entertainment let us open the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 1932 and look what "virtual" ment there ( oh, yes, there was a word "virtual" in that ancient time.): "1. Of or relating to a real force or virtue; potential; energizing; as, a virtual cause. 2. Being in essence or effect, but not in fact; as, "he was the virtual ruler".".

By the way a word "virtu" is explained there as character of being ... beautiful; artistic quality;.. ". Eh?


So as I can see, there are 3 types of virtual tours:

1. Panoramas. Contrary to popular believe, panoramas do not convey presence in physical space. It is because of properties of human perception. I am not going here into details why panoramic photography can not possible be compared to regular photography. Just want to add that to make quality panoramic picture is much more difficult than a normal photo. So, if somebody promises you - do it yourself - nonsense. It is not gonna work!

2. Web pages with static pictures. Well, they are virtual only because it is placed in "virtual" internet space. Internet space has very little relation to physical space, but anyway buzzword is here. Serving the need of hungry people. So these pages are no more virtual tours than any book with pictures.

3. Myst-like software. Very common to people playing computer games, especially adventure games. That is a real virtual tour. There are a number of web sites trying to mimic software. There are collected in our Virtual City index, but only one site is totally compliant with the concept - San Francisco Virtual Tour.

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