Forget wonderfully written guidebooks, blog posts, travel websites, TV shows, mobile applications et al, controlling a hi-res 3D image could be the best way to get the feel of a destination.
Step forward Airpano, a non-commercial group of Russia-based “panorama enthusiasts” who are gradually travelling around the world to photograph some of the greatest sights on the planet.
The team use high definition cameras – often mounted on helicopters – to capture each location and turn into a 3D photograph, each of which can then be controlled online by the user.
Each panorama (there are currently almost 100 available) is loaded into a separate window and then the user can turn 360-degrees, zoom in and out, or opt for a different view.
Unfortunately the views are not embeddable (sorry DMOs!), but perhaps this will come at a later date – especially if the group decides to drop the “non-commercial” element.
Some of the images are included below (click on each link to launch the 3D version – one of the best coffee break fodder/time-wasters of all time!).
Here is Manhattan, USA at night:
Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt:
Interestingly the site is not just about imagery – it does a pretty good job on the content side, with some history and facts and figures about each location.
The project is set to spend another two years or so wandering the globe pulling together as much content as it can.
The full list of panoramas is here.