http://roros360.com at present contains a 102-panorama tour of the city and its attractions, going as far afield as Alvdal to the south and Christianus Sextus mine to the north.
“I believe that this is the largest collection of panoramas of its kind in Norway, if not the world, and it is going to grow in not only size but importance in the near future,” says John Baxendale, photographer and founder of Tactus 360 Norge.
“We aim to cover as many aspects of Røros life as we can, which will include not only its hotels, restaurants, galleries and retail outlets, but also other aspects of the city.”
Although not officially launched until the beginning of June, the site has received growing attention from around the world since it was made live in April.
“I posted links to the beta version on a couple of forums and the response was immense. Within 48 hours, nearly 19,000 pages had been downloaded!
“The site is run by using Google Maps technology, which has taken the last year and several programmers to develop. With multiple place markers, each representing a different category, it is possible to choose what you want to see. Click on the marker and a full 360-degree panorama is loaded.”
The images are also available as an iTour for Apple devices, which includes making use of its gyroscope to enable the pictures to rotate with the devices’ movement. Android and Honeycomb versions are under development.
Røros 360 is aimed at not only the tourist industry, but also at those who might be planning a move to the city in the near future.
“We see this as a supplement to the fantastic work done by Destinasjon Røros in promoting this fascinating area, and we are proud to be associated with them and the work they do.”
The initial concept was to find a way of showing just a few panoramas which John took to test new equipment. However, his fascination for the city grew as he read more and more about its industrial heritage. As that grew, so did the number of panoramas and tours.
This has been achieved to no small extent with some kind help and advice from organisations such as Rørosmuseet and Destinasjon Røros, with whom Røros 360 has agreed to work to display the best that the city has to offer.
All the images are taken using High Dynamic Range photography, which is a series of pictures taken at different settings that are blended together to get the best of the lighting conditions. Thus, some of the panoramas can be made up from as many as 72 individual images.
“With a bit of imagination, nearly anything is possible. This includes animated graphics, the use of video and the inclusion of information panels and contact details. With Røros 360, we are in the business of promoting the city in a way that would otherwise be impossible, and providing the complete package in an attractive, user-friendly and exciting manner.”
As a business model, Røros 360 intends to lease panoramas for the different businesses within the city. This signifies a marked change in direction from the practices of many virtual tour companies working in Europe.
“Virtual tours can be expensive to develop, since they take many hours in not only shooting, but also in processing the final picture, developing a suitable user interface and making sure the delivery is exactly what the public needs. However, using a localised portal makes this a cheaper and more feasible proposition, especially to those for whom a virtual tour is seen as a luxury. In fact, using this system means that customers will end up paying less than the cost of a newspaper advertisement each year. This way, updates can be arranged without a necessarily high cost to the customer. More importantly, it has a means of delivering excellent advertising to a wider customer base using a technology that most find fun to use.”