VR Leeds - The Virtual Reality Tour of Leeds UK, how it all began...
From an original conception in 1996 we started to map the city of Leeds street by street in 360 degrees.
The equipment available at the time, one of the earliest digital cameras (with a resolution and battery life much much lower than present day mobile phones!) and an early model of panorama head (a plastic moulded cradle for a Kodak DC256 model) allowed us to capture the series of 14 to 18 photos needed for each panorama. This impressive hardware, along with a copy of Apple's 'QuickTime VR Authoring Studio' software allowed us to then create the first immersive 360 degree views for the tour of the city.
To allow people to view the tours often involved us taking a computer to them, or maybe the tour data loaded onto a CD-ROM if they had their own PC (this WAS the 1990's remember!).
An early example panorama produced from a single row of 16 photographs around 1999 [shown in 'Flash' format only]
As the tour grew, so did our potential audience, as more users bought their own computers, and some even invested in a modem and phone line so they could dial up a service to get on the ..... internet.
Our concept was to map the city streets, and then add to the tour by allowing a viewer to click along a chosen route, and then into city centre businesses, restaurants, hotels, city attractions etc.
As the tour developed, and the number of users on the internet increased we started to get interest from the media, as can be seen by the press cuttings below, and traffic to our website increased, some of which had arrived by referrals from the new breed of 'search engines' such as Yahoo, Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos - and a new kid on the block 'Google'. (Yes there WAS an internet before Google..)
Since those early days we have continued to update our tour, and branched out to cover other cities and destinations throughout the UK and Europe.
Though the hardware and software used to produce our tours has been updated countless times, such that we now take gigabytes of images, log our GPS locations, produce panoramas as QuickTime, Flash, HTML5 and Java formats (to enable viewing on PC's, phones, notebooks, tablets and more..) there can be no doubt that our original concept all those years ago was years ahead of its time.
To create your own panoramas and virtual tours please see the excellent range of latest equipment available from our online store.
Leeds press cuttings and press clippings:
Local News - Yorkshire Evening Post, August 2000
"Case Study" - Internet Works magazine November 1999
Local News - Leeds Express - October 1999
Local News - Yorkshire Evening Post, Business Today Section. Wednesday 10th November 1999