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Experience travel in 3-D, no silly glasses required

3d travel experience without…

 

Ever wonder what it’s like to trek to Mount Everest? Unless you’ve got a month of vacation and a big bank account, the next best answer may soon be sitting right in front of you.

Opening to the public on Saturday, Journey to Everest promises to bring Nepal to your computer screen via interactive 3-D. Along the way, the program offers a glimpse into the future of virtual tours.

The Journey was created by Singapore-based 3rd Planet Pte. Ltd. as a portal and marketing tool for the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). “[This] enables us to showcase our country in a totally new dimension,” said NTB CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha in a statement.

Or several. After registering (free) on the 3rd Planet website, users can explore Kathmandu, navigate around Tribhuvan Airport and fly over the Himalaya to the town of Lukla. Right-click your mouse to activate “fly-through” mode and the scenes get surprisingly realistic.

In Kathmandu, for example, users can walk the streets, peer around corners, even pass through the exterior columns of the Chyasim Deval temple in Patan Durbar Square. (Careful, it takes some coordination not to walk into the walls.) Later, in a scene straight out of “Lost Horizon,” you can ride along as a prop plane works its way over the mountains to the remote town of Lukla.

For now, that’s where the journey ends with the rest of the trek to Everest expected to go live next year. Even so, 3rd Planet CEO Terence Mak believes interactive 3-D travel is ready for prime time. “Pictures and words don’t do justice to a location,” he told msnbc.com. “Of all the various ways of remembering information, the human mind remembers it best through experience.”

Others in the industry appear to agree. Last year, 3D Travel of Honolulu launched 3-D portals that combine Google Earth imagery with travel-specific information for Hawaii and Las Vegas.

For Sin City, for example, users can fly along a videogame-like representation of the Strip, ducking under the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, following along the roller coaster at New York New York and passing through the fountains at Bellagio. Sidebars let users get more information on hotels, shows and other attractions and, in select cases, make immediate bookings.

The company expects to launch a similar offering for San Francisco in January.

Whether as a marketing platform or booking tool, interactive 3-D travel is still in its infancy. However, it’s likely to become more common as the technology improves, more destinations opt in and more people incorporate tablets and other mobile devices into their travel planning.

“There’s a lot more planning going on with iPads and other tablets,” said Norm Rose of Travel Tech Consulting Inc. “The more you can give people an opportunity to experience the virtual world, the more it will encourage actual travel to those destinations.”

Or, as Mak puts it, “We live in a 3-D world and the best way to understand a destination is in 3-D.”
source: By Rob Lovitt, msnbc.com

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