Guest post by Ryan Anderson, Senior Editor at AR/VR Tips
Virtual tour apps for VR have exploded in popularity and will continue to be trending in the future. This is because the pandemic has cut down on travel to businesses and places and also because businesses are seeing the value in offering virtual tours to customers.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a 360-degree virtual tour for your business, upload it to an online service, and create your files for mobile and virtual reality. We’ll also run through some real world examples of virtual reality tour apps to check out for inspiration.
If you or your business has experience in this area, make sure to comment down at the bottom of this guide with some tips to help other users out.
What is a Virtual Tour?
A virtual tour is a walkthrough of a business or location that customers can take from the comfort of their homes. Popular in VR, businesses can advertise their business and make sales without having a customer come to them at all.
Virtual tours are most commonly created with the use of a quality 360-degree camera. The camera captures immersive photos or videos of a space. With the use of a service on the internet, you can convert your regular 360 content in full virtual tour applications. These apps can be loaded up and run on mobile phones, computers, and VR headsets such as the Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, or HTC Vive.
Next, we’ll go over some of the best 360-degree cameras worth checking out.
Choosing a 360-Degree Camera
We’ve showcased a number of awesome 360-degree cameras on our website. Any of these can be used to shoot photos and videos for virtual tour apps.
The Insta360 EVO is a 360-degree camera that also folds outward into a stereoscopic 3D 180-degree camera. The Insta360 EVO shoots 5.7K 360-degree video, and 18-megapixel 360-degree still photos, along with the impressive FlowState stabilization for creating impressive action shots.
Ricoh Theta SC
The Ricoh Theta SC boasts a sleek design, which makes handheld shooting easy, and allows it to be carried in any pocket or purse. It is the ideal camera for capturing and sharing adventures, in full 360 degrees. The Theta SC records images that playback on a smartphone, tablet or PC instantly. This allows the viewer to see up, down and all around, as if they were there.
Insta360 One X
The Insta360 One X uses 360-degree capture, stabilization, and cinematic slow-mo features to expand what is possible with a camera. The camera incorporates a new “FlowState” stabilization algorithm, which analyzes movement in all directions. Users have options for different shooting modes, including 30 FBS (5.7K), 50 FPS (4K) and 100 FPS (3K), and 18MP stills.
Most other 360 degree cameras will also work great to create virtual tour apps. One important tip to share is that if you need perfect audio in your virtual tour app, you should consider using an external microphone. 360 cameras do not capture high quality and spatial audio unless you have an expensive commercial-quality one. Use external audio sources to capture audio accurately.
Virtual Tour Apps
Once you’ve taken your 360 pictures or video, you need an app or service to create official virtual tour media. There are a number of free and paid sources available to use to create your app.
Google Tour Creator
Google Tour Creator is a free web service from Google that allows you to create virtual tours from your raw videos. You can stitch together photos and images to create full experiences. Mark points of interest in your videos to bring attention to anything you want.
The nice thing about Google Tour Creator is that your final product can easily be shared as a web link. This brings almost universal compatibility with any web browser or VR headset.
BRIOVR is a web service geared for businesses looking to create virtual tour apps. You simply upload your images or videos into the platform and use BRIOVR’s virtual tour maker to bring everything together. The service uses a number of templates and designs to quickly create your tour.
BRIOVR also offers a management platform so that you can publish your tours, track views, and host content all on BRIOVR’s service. It is a solid full-service option to consider.
Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro is a desktop software for stitching, combining, and editing photos and videos together. It has full support for 360 degree content. Adobe software products are complex and may require some extra training, but it is perfect for any business.
When you are done creating your virtual tour, you can export the video in a number of file formats which can be read by web browsers and VR headsets accordingly. Premier Pro has both free and paid monthly subscription plans and trials so that you can test things out before you commit.
Virtual Tour Examples
A number of VR apps for virtual tours exist already. Use these examples below as inspiration for things your business can create today. A lot of these apps also have browser-based solutions as well, which can be found by navigating to the official developer website.
The Zion Narrows Experience
Zion Narrows is a remarkable area in Utah at Zion National Park. This VR app lets you explore the area in full virtual reality as if you were actually there. Beautifully captured in 360 degrees, see one of the most beautiful sandstone formations in the entire world.
Gala360 is a collection of virtual tours from around the world which are free and paid. If you are a professional photographer, you can submit your tours to Gala360 to be included in the app.
Gala360 includes over 300 virtual tours from around the world. You can travel virtual landmarks, walk through tourist attractions, and educate yourself on some of the most beautiful places in the world.
International Space Station Tour VR
The most exciting virtual tours take you to places you otherwise cannot visit. This International Space Station tour takes you up into space to walk around the ISS. You will get to see over 40 key areas of the space station, guided and narrated by Samantha Cristoforetti from the European Space Agency (ESA).
This virtual tour app gives you an insider’s view of what it is like to live and work onboard the longest, continually inhabited space station to orbit Earth.
What are your favorite virtual tour services and apps? Comment down below and let others know!