VirtualTour is a virtual reality app for iOS 8 supporting the easy and natural exploration of cultural heritage sites captured with 3D scanning technologies or modeled by artists. Either walking in real-world or slider interaction trigger the navigation on a path in the virtual site. The view is rotated according to device's rotation.
VirtualTour proposes a novel approach for exploring virtual sites by exploiting modern mobile devices (tablets or phones) and their embedded sensors. The main focus of this app is to provide a mobile access to hidden or inaccessible sites (e.g. caves, temples, buildings, etc), using 3D representation and breaking the usability barrier that often hinders the navigation in complex models.
VirtualTour leverages on device sensors, such as the gyroscope and accelerometer, to provide intuitive and natural interaction. While exploring the virtual site, exploiting the device's gyroscope, the user can look around in the virtual environment by moving the device. Moreover, the user can either follow the predefined path at constant speed using a touch-based slidebar, or can drive the movement in the virtual space by walking in the real-world (her/his steps are detected, using the accelerometer, and fed to VirtualTour allowing the user to move around in the virtual site). 3D models are rendered by using a state-of-the-art real-time rendering OpenGL ES|2.0 library which was internally developed during the development of the app. The current system allows to render models up to 3 million textured and shaded triangles at more than 30fps on commodity mobile platforms.
VirtualTour has been tested with the 3D scanned model of a Messapian tomb built in the 4th century B.C., the Palmieri crypt. This burial vault is located below a garden in a private house, which is not accessible to the public, in Lecce, Italy. The limited accessibility of the crypt makes its case study perfect for virtual reality exploration.