It seems too good to be true – a ‘real’ travel experience whilst you’re actually just chilling on your sofa at home. Possible travel destinations are endless. From sunbathing in Bali and sightseeing in Tokyo, to skiing in the French Alps – there is so much choice.
Fabian Baardolf is project manager at Viewr, a company that’s specialised in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality solutions. Virtual reality can be used in different ways, and Baardolf envisions a world in which virtual travelling can become a reality for many. “With virtual reality you move to a different world. Because of virtual glasses and the 3D images, your brain thinks that you’re in this specific world,” he says. “This world can be a holiday destination. This is the experience you get with virtual travelling.”
By Viva van Jaarsveld
What actions do you need to take in order to experience virtual travel?
‘’You connect your VR-glasses to your device, which can be your phone or laptop. Then you go to a website with 360 degrees videos, such as YouTube or Vimeo. Start watching those videos and enjoy your virtual travel!’’
How do you get the best virtual travelling experience?
‘’There are a few big differences between the various types of VR glasses. VR with your smartphone is handy to take with you, while your virtual travel experience will be of the highest quality in combination with a PC or laptop. The VR glasses by HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are the best ones. These are also one of the most expensive virtual glasses, with a price of between 450 and 700 euros. If you are just curious if you would like a virtual travel experience, you can also buy virtual glasses of €4,99 at Action.’’
How does your brain think that you’re travelling while you’re actually on a sofa?
‘’During a virtual travel, your brain gets triggered enormously. The images in the 360 degrees videos are really moving with you when you wear the VR glasses. When you look up or down, the images go in the same direction. If you look forward you see the sea, if you look behind you, you see the beach. These are triggers for your brain that make you think you’re somewhere else, in this case, on a holiday.’’
Besides virtual reality in 3D, there’s also virtual reality available in 4D. Samsung recently released 4D virtual glasses. What extras does 4D virtual reality have in comparison with 3D?
”With the 4D virtual glasses from Samsung, you can also perceive action and smell in various ways. Samsung’s 4D glasses make it possible to feel wind or water on your head when you’re at a waterfall and to breathe in the smell of coffee at a coffee plantation. The extras of 4D ensure that there are even more triggers to make people really think they are in a different world.”
How many people are already using virtual traveling and what are the expectations for the future?
‘’The market size of virtual reality is increasing every year. Last year the global market size of virtual reality reached 3.7 billion. This year, it’s projected to reach 6.4 billion. The market is expected to grow exponentially in the next years. According to a recent study published by Tableau Software, in 2020 the global market size could reach 40.4 billion. That’s more than ten times market size of 2016. In conclusion, virtual reality and virtual travelling become more popular.’’
Will virtual traveling become more popular than ‘normal’ traveling?
‘’Virtual travelling is very nice, but very intensive too. Most people don’t like to have this experience for longer than 30 minutes. They have to rest after their virtual travel. This is why virtual travel will never replace real travel. It’s more informative and supportive to trips you want to go on. People get inspired by virtual travelling for booking their real travel.’’
Virtual travelling is a recent development in the travel marketing. How does the travel industry use virtual travelling?
‘’If potential customers have a great experience with a specific virtual travel, they get stimulated to go on holiday to the place. Last year, I spent two weeks in Thailand for a promotional trip and recorded a 4-minute 360 degree video for Fox Travel. It had the purpose to encourage viewers to book their travel to Thailand. Fox Travel showed our video about Thailand at a travel fair in Amsterdam. The customers really liked the virtual travel experience and decided to buy a ticket to Thailand.’’