Virtual tour’s just a mouse click away

OVERCOMING problems associated with customers looking at, touching or feeling the merchandise on offer may have moved a step closer through the use of high resolution virtual tours.

While the system on offer from Victorian-based wide X-stream does not allow online customers to actually feel objects, they can rotate them on screen to get a look at them from all angles.

The Fremantle Dockers have already applied it to their website to help with sales of corporate boxes at Subiaco Oval.

With a click of a mouse visitors are given a 360-degree view of the box of their choice. The tour also gives a good idea of the sort of view spectators can expect.

The WA Football Commission is using the system for a similar purpose.

While not the only company to offer online virtual tours of venues or panoramic views of products, wide X-stream director Garry Clarke claims his company’s technology puts it ahead of any of its Australian competitors.

Mr Clarke said the company owned the only Panoscan camera in Australia. Indeed, he holds the exclusive distribution rights for the camera in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The camera allows us to capture high-resolution images and, because of the way it works, the post-production costs are negligible,” he said.

“There isn’t anyone in Australia who specialises in this field.”

The camera turns through 390 degrees to compose its panoramic image of a landscape or a venue.

It also has been used to shoot various angles of products, such as cars, to allow a customer to conduct a virtual walk-around of the product.

“We can shoot an image, assemble it and have it ready to view within an hour,” Mr Clarke said.

The company’s clients include P&O Resorts, P&O Cruises, Subaru, Ford and Holden.

It has even put together a package for Victorian law enforcement agencies for use in a murder trial. The package includes a panoramic view of the crime scene and videotaped witness statements.

Mr Clarke said it had been estimated the package would allow the evidence to be presented to the court in one third of the time it would normally take.

The company is working on a wine-selling package to enable online customers to virtually pick-up and look at the wine bottles.

With a mouse click they also can access tasting notes and vigneron comments. With another click the wine bottle is added to the customer’s shopping cart.

It costs a minimum of $550 for the first panoramic image.

Every image after that costs $275. Versions suitable for higher bandwidth are available for $50.

Mr Clarke said the issue of bandwidth did prove a hindrance.

“We can shoot images at a frighteningly big size, but the more detail there is in the image the longer the download time,” he said. “The sooner broadband becomes accepted in Australia the better for us.”

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