Group 27

A New Kind of Textbook: VR Tours for Historical Sites

Our business focuses on using virtual tours as marketing tools for real estate and hospitality, as that is where the value of a virtual tour is the most self-evident. However, I believe this new medium has incredible possibilities as an educational tool, perhaps someday as a new art form. Just as photography, film, and video took time to be embraced as valid artistic genres, I believe that it is inevitable for a new generation of creatives to find a way to utilize the storytelling potential of such an immersive and interactive form.

On a trip to Berlin this summer, we stayed on the Spree River, a block away from the Berlin Wall. This area is on a busy street, full of moving traffic, cyclists, pedestrians, and tourists from dawn to dusk. The Matterport Pro 3 is designed to capture buildings, not people. Moving objects can confuse the sensors and sometimes result in failed scans. Despite this, I wanted to see what would happen if we tried to scan a section of the Wall, which has paintings and plaques of historical significance on both sides. Because we didn’t want to be too far away from the expensive camera in a crowded city, it was also unwise to move out of sight for each scan. I was incredibly pleased that the Pro 3 was able to process all of this movement and still successfully create a seamless model. While the moving people create a Matrix-like visual effect, the actual wall and paintings are captured in perfect clarity. I hope to continue the project at my next opportunity to visit the site: the more scans we take, the more comfortable the space will be to navigate in a VR headset.

What I am really intrigued with is the possibility of adding historical context in the form of maps, links, and videos. While we all have different learning styles, and many people learn best from interactive formats. A student could navigate the space as if they were there, clicking on sections of artwork to learn more about each artist. Understanding each piece’s context and the painter’s intention would add whole new levels of information to a place that is already a visually powerful reminder of our history. I think there’s an incredible amount of potential to collaborate with historians and artists to enrich these kinds of spaces until they become a new kind of textbook, one that can be explored at each learner’s own pace.

Have you visited a gallery or historical site virtually? What did you think of the experience, and how could it have been improved?





/** --- ADD YOUR GSC CODES HERE --- **/