RISMEDIA, April 26, 2010—Have you ever been in a conversation with a group of people about a particular topic and quickly realized that everyone seemed to be talking about something different?
That is how I feel when I hear people discussing ‘Virtual Tours.’
For instance, what would your reply be if I asked you “What is a virtual tour?”
The answers I have heard have varied more than they’ve been similar. In fact, confusion about “what is” and “what isn’t” a virtual tour is rampant…and maybe, as we will see, this might be rightfully so.
When I was first trying to answer the question myself, my first attempt at a definition of a virtual tour was: a simulation (of sorts), probably comprised of two or more visual components (scenes), that allows for the viewer to immerse themselves into what they are trying to simulate. I also concluded that to me, a virtual tour gives users the ability to ‘browse’ around (and/or through) something (or maybe nothing).
When examining the reason for confusion around virtual tours, it became obvious to me that the real problem stems from the fact that there are many different ‘types’ of visual products that are being utilized today, most of which are referred to as virtual tours, and what makes matters worse is more products are being created even as I am typing this article, only to be compounded by the fact that there is no definitive place to straighten out all the confusion…Until now!
To help facilitate the process and to give us a place to define all the terms, features, functionality and pros and cons of different types of virtual tours, I have created “TourTalk,” a free group on the oldest, most respected real estate social networking Internet site, RealTown, http://Realtown.com/TourTalk.
TourTalk was created as an “open forum’, and is “your place” to talk about “anything” and “everything” about tours of all types.
At TourTalk you can easily learn all about tours and then, if you like, make yourself heard by expressing your comments, questions, and concerns or needs. Best of all, TourTalk has commitments from “virtual tour experts” who will quickly reply or point you in the right direction.
Another important aspect is all the different virtual tour vendors are invited to participate in TourTalk. We hope they do participate to answer your concerns and questions or to accept your praise.
If you don’t see your favorite friends or vendors participating on TourTalk, just invite them to visit http://Realtown.com/TourTalk. With all of their participation, TourTalk will get better and better, because ‘no one is as smart as everyone” (Kevin Kelly).
As you will see when visiting TourTalk, I have populated the group with a few documents including a feature comparison chart broken down by vendors and a Glossary.
The Glossary (and all documents/postings) has the functionality to allow TourTalk’ers to make suggestions. Please feel free to browse the Glossary at anytime, and make comments to it if you think they need changing.
Of course, when creating the Glossary for TourTalk, one of the terms in the glossary had to be ‘virtual tours,’ and I was trying to figure out what should be the ‘starting’ point’.
Starting point? Yes, starting point, because all the terms in the glossary will be updated based on your comments and input. But I (and the virtual tour community for that matter) need a starting point, and hopefully one that was somewhat neutral, especially if it is going to be the focal point of the group itself.
So, I consulted with a few experts that surround me and came up with a plan and after completing the plan came up with the starting point.
As you see in the TourTalk glossary, the definition of virtual tour is: A virtual tour is a simulation of a place (or thing), existing or imaginary, that is usually composed of one or more digital images (of any type) often called scenes. Virtual tours may also include any of the other multimedia elements such as sound effects, music, narration, and text.
I encourage you to visit TourTalk to see the full article “The History of the Starting Definition of Virtual Tour in TourTalk.”
See you in TourTalk.
Mike Barnett is CIO of Property Panorama, Inc. and can be reached at Mike@PropertyPanorama.com.