Images and Virtual Reality
This website looks
at the use of virtual reality immersive images in education. These
are images usually viewed on computer screens and delivered via
the Internet or on CDROM. The images give an initial impression
of being an animation such as video (mostly without the download
size and bandwidth requirement), but allow for full user control
and interactivity. The user can control the movement and image
display; and has the feeling of being inside the image. In some
images the viewpoint can be moved left or right by 360 degrees,
while in others the user has the impression of hanging about 1
metre above the ground and being able to look left, right, up
or down by 360 degrees. It is also possible to add sound, hotspots,
popups, animation and video within the image to provide fully
The immersive images are made either by stitching
overlapping flat digital images together or by stitching overlapping
fisheye images together using specialised software. The stitched
images are viewed using compatible plugins or software.
This sample panorama is a view of the Warrumbungle National Park
taken from the walkway of the Dome of the giant AAO observatory
on Siding Springs mountain. This image takes users 'virtually'
to a place where they would not be permitted to go in person.
It is stitched from a series of photographs taken
in 15-degree increments. Normally turning the camera on a tripod
does this, but in this case it was done by placing the camera
on a tripod and turning the dome in 15 degree increments.
The mouse or arrow keys can be used to move the
image, and ‘A’ and ‘Z’ keys to zoom in
by right clicking on the page and selecting 'view source') and
calls on a tiny but powerful java applet called PTViewer to display
the image. This applet is downloaded with the page and cached,
so no plugins need to be installed to view the panorama.