Virtual tourism could offer new opportunities for older travellers

New tech could mitigate some of the pandemic’s impact on the tourism industry.

Virtual tourism could offer new opportunities for older travellers

A new proposal could help revitalise an industry that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Virtual travel, using advanced mathematical techniques and combining livestream video with existing photos and videos of travel hotspots, could become ultra-realistic, according to a new proposal published in Cell Patterns.

Mathematical modeller Dr Arni SR Srinivasa Rao and proposal co-author Dr Steven Krantz suggest using data science to improve on existing television and internet-based tourism experiences, according to a Phys Org report.

By measuring and then digitising the curvatures and angles of objects and the distances between them using drone footage, photos and videos, they say they could make virtual travel experiences more realistic for viewers and help revitalise the tourism industry.

Calling their technology Live Streaming with Actual Proportionality of Objects or LAPO for short, the pair say they can make images of people, places and things seem more real.

“This is about having a new kind of technology that uses advanced mathematical techniques to turn digitised data, captured live at a tourist site, into more realistic photos and videos with more of a feel for the location than you would get watching a movie or documentary,” says Prof. Rao.

“When you go see the Statue of Liberty, for instance, you stand on the bank of the Hudson River and look at it. When you watch a video of it, you can only see the object from one angle. When you measure and preserve multiple angles and digitise that in video form, you could visualise it from multiple angles. You would feel like you’re there while you’re sitting at home.”

The pair say the technology could help mitigate some of the pandemic’s impact on the tourism industry.

There are also other advantages, such as cost-effectiveness (virtual tourism would be cheaper); health safety (because it can be done from the comfort of home); and saving time (no travel time).

It would also make travel to more places much more possible for older people, as virtual tourism virtually eliminates accessibility issues. Tourism hotspots that routinely are not accessible to older people or those with physical disabilities would become accessible, safer and more secure and free from the risk of becoming a victim of crime.

And no special equipment – apart from a standard home computer with a graphics card and internet access – is required.

“Virtual tourism (also) creates new employment opportunities for virtual tour guides, interpreters, drone pilots, videographers and photographers, as well as those building the new equipment for virtual tourism,” say the pair.

“People would pay for these experiences like they pay airlines, hotels and tourist spots during regular travel.

“The payments could go to each individual involved in creating the experience or to a company that creates the entire trip, for example.”

Given the extreme nature of the past six months, would you be more likely to try virtual tourism?

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