Fairfax Tech Talk Column

Fairfax Tech Talk Column

03.4.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 192


Do you remember the old days? The days when we could jump in a car and drive to a local tourist destination and gather with other people whilst viewing the attraction? Or cast your mind back further – when we could fly across the seas and visit a foreign land.

Once at a faraway location, we had the pleasure of patiently standing in a line in the sun/rain/snow/heat/cold (insert applicable for your favourite destination) and paying good money to gather amongst the crowds and see a glimpse of the attraction. When I saw the Mona Lisa (which I can only assume was the original) I was surrounded by 200 of my closest acquaintances – and that was in the quiet season!

With the new world we now live in, all of those pleasures have been removed. No more visiting foreign destinations. No more being stuck on a plane beside a crying baby. No more jet lag. For the time being at least.

None of this removes the fact that there are some fascinating destinations to visit. For anyone that has run into a friend just after they have returned from a holiday, by the time they have finished showing you their photos and videos from their trip it feels like you have been on the trip with them – without the cost.

As with most problems I see in life, I assume technology is the answer. For lack of travel caused by COVID-19, I see virtual holidays and tours as the answer.

My favourite destinations to visit virtually are a combination of real and imaginary.

The first virtual tour I would recommend is the TARDIS. The most famous Police Box in the world only appears with an external area of 3.9 square metres. Inside is a different story. Make sure you have some time on your hands because on the inside the TARDIS contains an infinite number of rooms, corridors and storage spaces.

For a nerd like myself, there is an attraction in taking a virtual tour of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Probably best known for the location of the Large Hadron Collider, the facilities host a huge range of scientific testing equipment.

Along more traditional lines, the Roman Colosseum is a popular destination – both in the real and the virtual world. Virtual tours have one major advantage in allowing you to go to some sections of a destination that are out of bounds for you when you visit in the physical sense. Bonus content!

The International Space Station (ISS) is a location that most of us are unlikely to visit with a total of just 228 people having ever been to the ISS. Although astronauts don’t need to wear a spacesuit inside the ISS, to really feel like an astronaut I imagine wearing several layers of clothing to restrict my movement, wear a facemask and climb under my bed before taking this virtual tour.

Another location that is out of reach for most is Mount Everest. Only 4,042 people have reached the summit – but with a virtual tour we can all experience the scenery minus the cold and lack of oxygen.

Other notable mentions in the list of tours to consider include The Louvre; the Kennedy Space Centre; The Sistine Chapel; Antarctica; the Great Wall of China; Pyramids; the Grand Canyon; Google Data centres and for a final fictional one, Diagon Alley.

They may not be quite the same as the real thing but at the moment, what choice do we have? Send me the list of locations you would like to take a virtual tour to at ask@techtalk.digital.

Mathew Dickerson