Pompeii Virtual Tour

4-star rating
Education, History, Museums, Travel
Comfortable, Stationary

Pompeii was a vibrant ancient Roman city located near modern day Naples, Italy when in 79 AD it was tragically buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash by neighboring Mount Vesuvius. This cataclysm preserved Pompeii's streets, buildings and even the inhabitants' final moments, offering remarkable insights into Roman daily life two millennia ago. Everyone should get the chance to explore and experience this world heritage site for themselves, but not all will have the opportunity to go, making virtual reality possibly the best alternative to the real thing.

The immense amount of data required to capture and present this expansive site makes a full VR exploration impossible, even with today's technology. Hence why a 12 GB download is required to recreate a small section of the city in this VR program, but one that captures a fair representation of Pompeii. Included in this tour is a walk down the stone paved street of Via di Mercurio with Vesuvius visible in the distance, the Arch of Caligula, and interior investigations of a house and the forum baths.

The photogrammetry captured and modeled for this program is able to provide a sense of presence, and has adequate detail to show off delicate frescoes and mosaics on walls and floors. Movement is achieved by gazing at green navigation circles that indicate points of interest, then the program slowly comfortably slides the user over to the new location while maintaining the illusion of presence as the scenery glides past you. The height of the camera can be unnatural at times, as some green circles can be at different heights meaning that your point of view can vary from head height to being a foot of the ground for no apparent reason. You can move within your room space somewhat to improve your viewpoint and look around obstacles, but that ability is dampened by the program.

Navigating Via di Mercurio using the green indicators.

Optional audio narration is presented in a conversational style that provides insights into the area in which you are standing. Unfortunately it's not implemented well. It begins as you arrive at a new location and it's best to stay where you are if you want to hear all of it. If you move elsewhere a new audio track may override what you're listening to, or even more frustratingly the same audio track will restart at the beginning. We found it easier to pause narration, then restart it at a location where we wanted to remain for a while.

We found Pompeii to be immersive and instructive, particularly when we'd come to terms with some of the clumsy navigation and narration. Presentation could have been better too - we'd love to see how the area we were exploring fit in with the whole city (we've added a map below to give you an idea). As it is, the program abruptly drops you into the forum baths with no indication of where you are. There is also a flatscreen website version of this content at Specterras' website though we notice that the graphic fidelity is much better on the virtual reality version.

Red marks the area covered by this experience.

✅ Good level of graphical detail.
✅ Great sense of immersion.
✅ Variety of content.
❌ Clumsy but comfortable navigation.
❌ Frustrating implementation of narration.

• Languages: English
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