Gardens Online - the Free Official Virtual Tour
Explore Kew Gardens is the free, Official Virtual Tour of the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, near London. The website tour includes 360-degree panoramas, mini-movies, narration, maps, full text for the hearing-impaired, and free MS Word files (with pictures) for non-commercial use by schools.
January 19, 2006 -- Web Surfers can now take a free online, Virtual Tour of the exquisite Kew Gardens near London, from the comfort of their own armchairs at Explore Kew Gardens -- http://www.explore-kew-gardens.net
Technological advances by the Armchair Travel Company have now made it possible for tourists, teachers, historians and students to take an interactive, "virtual tour" around these extensive and beautiful gardens and research facilities, as if they were there. They will be able to see and hear everything about the gardens, its exhibits, designers and history by simply connecting to our website.
Explore Kew Gardens, which has been just been opened as a completely free-entry website to the general public by the Armchair Travel Company Ltd., is the third in a series of 'World Heritage Explorer series' web sites.
The London-based company has employed a technique it has developed over ten years called Virtual Travel®, based on proprietary photographic techniques, Macromedia Flash, and the Java PTviewer Panoramic Display Engine. The site displays 360-degree panoramic views, movies, and narration to create a photo-real, interactive tour. The site also includes a full set of Microsoft Word files, including pictures, for use by schools, teachers and students.
Upon entering the grounds of Kew Gardens http://www.explore-kew-gardens.net, 'virtual visitors' can look around by panning left and right on the small panos. Having spotted something of interest they can click to open a window with a much larger and higher quality panorama, and then zoom in and pan around for closer looks. For example, they can view close-up details of orchids in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, dedicated to the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
An easy-to-follow map also ensures that, unlike the real tourist, they can jump around the gardens and buildings at the click of a button. There are even exclusive 360-degree panoramic views taken from the Desert Room, the Marianne North Building, and the Palm House. Also included are locations such as Queen Charlotte's Cottage, an area which is off-limits to tourists at the site itself. All of the panoramas have descriptive narration, text and downloadable MS Word files with pictures.
William Beckett from Armchair Travel said, "If a user wanted to see and hear everything on the website, it would take over three hours to view it all, thus making this the most comprehensive interactive guided tour yet produced on the world-wide web. This site should make this World Heritage Site available to a wide range of virtual visitors who would otherwise never be able to see its splendor.
Armchair Travel's "World Heritage Explorer" programs will help alleviate the burden for access to internationally important sites, such as Kew Gardens, while producing income for preservation through donations. Many of the most famous heritage sites are threatened with closure to prevent the damage caused by admitting yet more tourists."
Four hundred years of history are brought to life, with the key figures in the story of Kew Gardens being presented in 40 specially produced movies (suitable for both broadband and dialup connection). These include video essays on the main features of the gardens, such as its extensive collections, historic buildings, research facilities, royal patrons, and art, etc, and especially those features not visible to most tourists.
William Donelson from Armchair Travel said: "As the uptake of broadband in the home expands, people will increasingly look to the World Wide Web for entertainment as well as information, and travel seems likely to prove one of the most popular subjects. Armchair Travel is at the forefront of this new technology."