Adding Video and Audio To Your Virtual Tour

Need a walking or virtual tour that includes audio or video? We’re routinely asked how this can be done with the Whitepoint platform for smarter virtual tours. Here’s how.

First, A Bit About Whitepoint Tour Structure for Smarter Tours

Your tour – whether it’s a walking tour or a virtual tour – is referred to as a scape. Scapes have scenes, and within those scenes are points of interest, or whitepoints. You can learn more about tour structure and getting started building a Whitepoint tour in our YouTube tutorials.

Whitepoints provide the opportunity for text and an image. They also provide linking capability with widgets.

Widgets Are How You Link To Audio or Video

Headphones for audio and video tour

You can easily add audio or video to your Whitepoint tour using widgets.

Widgets can be used for links to YouTube and Vimeo files, for example. If you have a separate video or audio file hosted somewhere, that works too. In short, all you need is an audio or video file with a web address. If you have that, the file can be linked from a whitepoint of your choice.

In the Authoring Panel, you’ll simply add that link in the widget link field for the associated whitepoint.

This capability is included at no additional charge in all Whitepoint authoring subscription plans.

Some Things To Keep In Mind About Audio and Video In Tours

There are a few things to remember when you add audio or video to your smarter virtual or walking tour:

  • Your users or visitors will need Internet connectivity to access the audio and video linked using widgets in your tour, even if the scape is saved to the device.
  • Depending on your user’s mobile OS, the content will open separately in the default app for that content type. YouTube or Vimeo content for example will open in the YouTube or Vimeo apps, if installed on that device.

Need Embedded Audio or Video In Your Tour?

Again, the capability discussed above is included at no additional charge in all Whitepoint authoring subscription plans.

Embedded audio or video in your scape however can be accomplished with our custom authoring and app plans. If you’re interested, reach out and let us know.

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Virtual Touring Software for a Variety of Industries

We’re continually amazed at the variety of businesses and industries that work with Whitepoint’s virtual touring software platform. One interesting idea recently came from a caterer who wanted to use a virtual touring software to showcase their catering displays and menu.

It makes sense – it’s one thing to see a plate of pasta. It’s another to also understand the ingredients in that pasta or to be able to identify it among other dishes in a dazzling display of culinary delight.

Virtual Touring Software for . . . Everyone?

photo of coffee shop display case with lots of delicious options - how could virtual touring software be used?

It’s just a case in a coffee shop right? But what are all of those delicious options? And how can you use virtual touring software to share them with customers?

The fact is that virtual touring software has a place as a digital marketing tool in almost any business or industry. And, this is only becoming more pronounced as reliance on images increases in marketing along with the proliferation of mobile devices. People want image-rich content. And, they want it more and more on their mobile devices.

The big difference is how we define “virtual touring” and the virtual touring software behind it. As we’ve stated elsewhere, at Whitepoint we’re working toward a goal of smarter, more interactive virtual touring geared toward mobile devices.

The need for smarter content in real estate marketing is obvious. But there are tons of other industries and businesses where the need is developing: hotels, resorts, automotive, retail, museums, galleries, restaurants . . . you name it.

How Users Find Your Business’ Tour in the Whitepoint App

Screenshot from Whitepoint virtual touring software

Screenshot from the Whitepoint app showing the search box and “find by category” button on the app’s main screen.

Users need to download the Whitepoint app for iOS or Android. Once they have that, your tour can be accessed by browsing the categories displayed on the right of the Whitepoint app’s main screen.

Additionally, they can search for your tour using the search box in the top right of the Whitepoint app’s main screen.

As an author, you have the ability to categorize any scape you build and to add descriptive text that helps users find it.

Depending on the nature of your business – if your users are in an on-site scenario such as the lobby of a building or in a museum exhibition – a little signage and QR codes can assist them in the two step process they need to follow: 1) Download the app and 2) Locate your scape.

Even More Options for Sharing and Highlighting Your Scape

As if that isn’t enough, our virtual touring software offers the ability to simultaneously provide your tour for users on desktop computers outside of the Whitepoint app.

And, if you sign up for our Premier Authoring subscription plan, you can have your scape featured on the app’s main screen for even easier access.

Curious how Whitepoint’s virtual touring software can be used in your business? We want to help. Reach out here or contact us at Whitepoint

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How to Add Descriptive Content to Whitepoint Virtual Tours

Helping people make virtual tours smarter is what the whole Whitepoint platform is all about. Therefore, one of the most common questions we get from users is how to add more descriptive content to our virtual tours.

Makes sense, huh? Here are some ideas on how to do that.

Whitepoints are the Data Points

First off, the best place to add descriptive content – whether textual and / or a link to other even richer content is within the whitepoints of any scape (our word for a Whitepoint virtual tour).

Golden Gate Bridge scene image, Whitepoint virtual tour

This is a scene image from a Whitepoint virtual tour of the Golden Gate Bridge.

As discussed elsewhere in this blog, whitepoints are the aspects of any scene image that require more detailed information.

For example, if you look closely in the accompanying image of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge – taken from a scene in an actual scape – you’ll see a whitepoint. Your virtual tour user could tap that point on his or her mobile device and get your ideas or more information on the steel used in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Another Opportunity for Descriptive Content

Currently, our scene image editing and authoring capabilities do offer a field for text-based descriptive content. But, as our authors have noticed, that text does not yet display in the scapes. Future plans for scape display do utilize that content. It is not yet being used beyond basic search capability. So, it is helpful to add that information, just don’t think something is broken if you can’t view that text.

Descriptive content in Golden Gate Bridge Whitepoint virtual tour scene image

This is the same scene image from the Golden Gate Bridge Whitepoint virtual tour. More descriptive content has been added graphically to the image.

If you believe scene images like the accompanying Golden Gate Bridge image are deserving of text content, it’s easy to accomplish. Simply add the text when editing the scene image before your upload.

In our testing, we’ve found that sizing the scape image to about 900 pixels wide x 500 pixels high first, then adding your text is the best approach. This way you can judge what looks best in text vs image size.

Whitepoint Virtual Tours as Presentations

Taking it a step further, this is how Whitepoint virtual tours can actually be used as presentations.

Whitepoint virtual tour as presentation tool

This is an actual scene image from a Whitepoint virtual tour used as a presentation. The scene image features text, and whitepoints offer opportunities for more information.

In the accompanying image, you see a scene image that utilizes only text – this is simply a graphic that was uploaded as a scene image. In this example, the whitepoints are intended as jumping off points for more detailed exploration of a particular phrase or idea.

. . . kind of like a smarter virtual tour of a concept.

Updated July 20, 2016.

Do you have a question about authoring your Whitepoint virtual tour? Maybe you need to get started as an author? Please, share your questions with us – we look forward to hearing from you.

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#EdTech in Action: South Asheboro Middle School

With a little help from technology, students at South Asheboro Middle School – as well as their community – have benefited greatly from the efforts of enterprising staff at their school.

EdTech in Action

Walking tour app and EdTech

Students at South Asheboro Middle School created a Whitepoint scape to guide others on a walking tour of their historic downtown. Above, their custom scape image – with scene points – depicts the town.

Featured recently in a community publication, their story is an excellent case study in how education technology tools can enrich student learning.

As Barry Barber, technology facilitator at South Asheboro Middle School, states in the article:

From researching the history of Asheboro at the public library to taking a tour with a local historian, the students have learned a lot . . . Putting together the information into a mobile app has given our students real-world experience in collaboration, creative thinking, and problem solving.

A recipient of a small education grant in 2014, the group has spread their technology purchases across disciplines, stretching the value of those tools and maximizing their educational application.

But, at the heart of any effort like this are good people that make things happen.

A Featured Whitepoint Scape

We’re proud to present the Historic Downtown Asheboro walking tour – built by students at South Asheboro Middle School – as a featured Whitepoint scape, available in the free Whitepoint app on iOS or Android.

Good work students and educators!

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A Content Management System for Smarter Virtual Tours

We recently had a project come through that specified data storage requirements. The resulting discussion got us thinking again about Whitepoint as a content management system for smarter virtual tours.

Smarter Virtual Tours Can Mean Lots of Content

Statue as stop on virtual tour - content management system helps organize information.

For this stop on a virtual tour, you might have a number of related links for more information. This is where a content management system helps.

Constructing and managing a virtual tour kicks up a good bit of content of different types. What we’ve found from experience is that the gathering of all that related content can be the most burdensome aspect of virtual tour construction.

In a Whitepoint virtual tour, what is largely stored are images and other content associated with data points (whitepoints). These points are the aspect of the tour most likely to change, move around, and get updated.

As a result, Whitepoint acts as a content management system to help you keep those whitepoints in tact and available for future use wherever necessary. For example, you have the option to delete whitepoint information entirely or save it for the future. This comes in handy especially in situations such as museum tours – where data points are likely to shift in the space periodically.

Here’s One Way a Content Management System Helps

It isn’t so much that audio and video files need to be stored and managed, it’s that each data point has attributes that need to be managed. This is where the difference lies between a content management system and a system for file storage.

For example, each data point consists (hopefully) of an image, text content, and other information. For each of those data points, our content management system provides for multiple social media tie-ins as well as what we call a widget. A widget can be a link to an audio or video file on a Vimeo or YouTube account, for example. Keeping all of these associations organized and reusable is not only convenient, it’s a headache and time saver.

Whitepoint (As Content Management System) + Dropbox (As File Management System) = Virtual Tour Construction Bliss

Content management system for smarter virtual touring - an image of a city at night.

Lots of different images in your virtual tour – the city at evening or the same city at daytime, for example – are tough to keep track of.

Generating content is a headache for most organizations. With virtual tours especially, different types of content can come from lots of different places – different people, desktop computers, or mobile devices.

As a result, a shared folder on Dropbox works extremely well for collaborating on virtual tour projects (Whitepoint does support authoring by teams, by the way). We’ve also shared some ideas on file naming conventions to use in these scenarios.

The expectations for virtual tours are expanding, and it isn’t too much to expect more when you’re building one. A content management system for smarter virtual tour content is a good place to start.

What are your expectations in a content management system when building a virtual tour? Have you found a file sharing tool you like? Tell us!

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Smart Touring and Educational Technology

Whitepoint was recently mentioned as an educational technology tool in an article on TechFaster. After reading it, we were reminded of several educational technology uses for the Whitepoint platform.

Educational Technology Applications for the Whitepoint Framework

All of these potential uses are perfect for authoring by both students and teachers as part of the learning process. The subject of the scapes might often be the focus, but the very process of authoring can be valuable in learning as well: Gathering, editing, and managing content can offer great learning opportunities for team building and project management.

Virtual Tours of Historic Places

As an educational technology, the most obvious application for the Whitepoint framework is in building and sharing virtual tours of historic places. Because the Whitepoint platform allows for more than just a virtual tour, there is ample opportunity to leverage smarter touring to make interactive encounters with historic places more meaningful.

Interactive Maps

Old map as interactive educational technology.

Using the Whitepoint framework as an educational technology can make this map image a much more meaningful interactive teaching tool.

Generating interactive maps is also another educational technology use for Whitepoint.

Like a smart tour of any historic site, students can use maps with rich content – images, text, and links to audio or video – to learn more about different regions and the world.

In addition, interactive maps can focus on geographic regions during certain points in history, such as Colonial America or the Byzantine era.

Interactive How To’s and Guides

Both teachers and students can leverage the educational technology potential of Whitepoint in building interactive guides. Step by step instructions on performing tasks or interactive guides illustrating processes – such as photosynthesis – can be powerful tools for learning. Having students construct their own guides is one way to pull in cross-disciplinary learning opportunities.

Campus Tours

We’ve written before about Whitepoint as a framework for building and sharing campus tours for students and visitors.

However, the Whitepoint platform can also serve as an educational technology for groups of students in class to build and map tours of their school. In addition to serving as a great orientation tool for new students, this application would provide opportunities for lessons in teamwork, photography, writing, and technology.

Do you have other ideas for Whitepoint as an educational technology? Or, maybe you have questions? We’d love to hear from you.

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A Smarter Virtual Tour App for iPad: Whitepoint 2.1

The next version of the Whitepoint smart tour viewer app for iPad and iPhone is now available in the App Store. Specifically, it looks great on iPad, and the potential for smarter virtual and on-site touring is particularly noticeable in that larger format.

Improvements Over the Previous App for iPad and iPhone

The latest version of the Whitepoint app for iPad and iPhone improves substantially on the layout and stability of the previous (and first!) version. However, there are some noticeable feature enhancements:

  • A grid view of featured scapes – smart tours – on the main screen.
  • A breakdown of available scapes by category – such as museums, travel, real estate, resorts, or educational facilities.

Potential Uses for a Smarter Tour App for iPad

Whitepoint tour app for iPad running on iOS 7.1

Here’s a screenshot of the new Whitepoint tour app for iPad running on iOS 7.1.

As mentioned earlier, the iPad format is particularly promising for self-guided tours of sights, exhibitions, and amusements. Whether an iPad is provided for visitors or they bring their own, it makes a lot of sense for providing more meaningful experiences.

Visitors can of course download the app for iPad or for iPhone and manage the touring completely on their own.

And, if they have an Android phone or Android tablet, that’s OK too. We have them covered with our Android app.

A Future Enhancement

Our Android app already features the “Save Scape” feature – meaning that users can download and save a smart tour to a mobile device rather than rely on a web connection. This is especially helpful in spaces without wifi, poor mobile connectivity, or when crowds bog down connectivity.

Users will see this “save scape” capability soon in our app for iPad and iPhone.

Happy #whitepointing!

Have you used the app for iPad or on an iPhone? Tell us what you think – what you like and what you don’t like.

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The Search for an Online Mobile App Builder

Many businesses want their own custom mobile app. We’ve talked about custom tour apps before on our blog, and there is just something about having your very own app.  In fact, businesses want that app, and they want it now. Ideally, an online mobile app builder would make the process a lot less painful.

Let’s Say a Tool Claims To Be An Online Mobile App Builder . . .

Having your own mobile app requires a number of steps in not only development, but also in the developer account setup and management, app maintenance, and then promotion of that app.

For our purposes here, let’s focus on the development. One tool out there – called PhoneGap – does make it easier to build a basic mobile app. But, it does require scripting, so you are going to need a developer. And, if you’re going to attempt to do anything more than just a simple brochure app, it’s going to get complicated. Quickly.

Our past experience in and around Whitepoint is that you can quickly outgrow PhoneGap. And, once you do outgrow PhoneGap, you may find that having attempted native development from the beginning may have been more productive. Not to knock PhoneGap completely – the framework is easily understood and great for building a simple mobile app.

But, if you’re not a programmer, you may not realize that there are different stages of development. First of course, there’s coding. Then, there’s compiling. PhoneGap launched in recent years the PhoneGap Build cloud service which can greatly simplify this process.

However, when most think of an online mobile app builder, that’s not exactly what they have in mind.

What Kind of Mobile Presence Is Your Business Looking For?

Is Your Business Going Mobile and Looking for an Online Mobile App Builder?

If your business is going mobile, you may be looking for a quick way to do so, like an online mobile app builder. If so, keep some ideas in mind . . .

A lot of businesses and marketing teams simply need to point to a mobile app to say they have one. And that’s understandable. However, it may be more productive to think in terms of establishing a mobile presence, and that can mean more than just having your own app.

There are a lot of factors to consider when establishing and maintaining a mobile presence – why not look at it as a step by step process and establish a broader strategy for going mobile?

At Whitepoint, we’re a kind of mobile virtual tour provider – offering our free framework to help businesses build smart tours for mobile and establish a mobile presence that way. We do have an online interface for building your smart tour. But, we take the hassles out of coding, managing, and maintaining your own dedicated app.

Not quite an online mobile app builder per se, but it’s well worth including in your search for one.

Maybe you know of an online mobile app builder alternative we could feature here . . . if so, tell us about it. Comment below. While you’re at it, why not get started authoring with Whitepoint today?

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Social Mapping: Why Museums Should Care

Museums are data rich environments. It seems obvious, but we don’t often think of them in that way.

As a result of being data rich environments, they were key inspiration for Whitepoint – our framework for more easily and cost effectively managing smart tour content.

The entrance to a museum exhibition.

Screenshot from Whitepoint tour app showing the entrance to a museum exhibition. Note the Whitepoint data point that has been plotted to introduce the exhibition.

And, while working on developing the Whitepoint smart tour framework, we realized that the emerging field of social mapping was the best match for how expectations of technology were evolving for data rich environments like museums.

A Social Mapping Example

Waze is one of the higher profile examples of a social mapping app. As a source for crowdsourced traffic information – whether or not you’ve heard of it – you have very likely used it or its technology. Google purchased Waze in 2013 and began integrating its technology with Google Maps.

But, what does a traffic app have to do with museums?  Museums – being the data rich environments that they are – can benefit in a big way from developments in social mapping and where aspects of this technology are heading.

Developing a custom social mapping app is of course beyond the capability of most museum organizations right now. But there are four simple aspects – or qualities – that social mapping technology tends to have. And, these four items read like a checklist for museums looking for ideas on how to boost promotion efforts for their institution or make exhibitions more engaging.

 

So, What Are the Four Aspects of Social Mapping Technology?

Simply put, social mapping technology tends to have these qualities or characteristics:
  • Social – A social component that goes beyond just having a Twitter or Facebook account. Content encourages others to engage and “belong.”
  • Discovery – Discovery capability that enables linkages between individual interests and subject matter.
  • Navigation – As technology matures, we’ll likely find that mobile technologies will increasingly help people navigate smaller spaces – not just the larger spaces we see on maps now.
  • Mapping – The meaning of mapping here goes beyond the traditionally map-based meaning of the word. In the very near future, we’ll likely find that mapping things as data points – not just places – becomes routine.Consider the implications of data points that are not only easy to locate, but social-enabled.

With museums being the data rich environments that they are, they have a unique advantage in benefitting from social mapping. Beginning to think in these terms now may translate into many more, and happier, museum patrons in the future.

This article is based on highlights from a talk prepared for Museums and the Web ASIA 2013. You can view the supporting Whitepoint slideshow here:

 

 

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Tech Ideas, Insights, and Projects for Museums

Earlier this year, we were briefly mentioned in a document provided by the New Media Consortium called “The NMC Horizon Project Short List (2013 Museum Edition).” I’m glad this resource was brought to my attention, because it provides for museums a wealth of tech insights that would otherwise require a lot of legwork.

Because museums and non-profits are often working with limited resources, just the research alone into tech improvements that might enhance the visitor experience is often difficult. This document details a number of technologies of importance for museums, three of which I’m highlighting here.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Whenever museums consider a tour app rollout, the issue of providing hardware for visitor use will be raised as a major expense. What few museums realize is that they can leverage the proliferation of smart devices already in visitors’ hands.

The obvious technology to leverage in this fashion is the QR code, of course. However, content can be much more rich if a tour app is adopted that can install to iOS and Android devices. Blackberry and Windows devices are nice to have, but iOS and Android are a must.

For those visitors that don’t bring their own device, that’s fine. Two or three low cost tablets can be on hand to provide for their use.

Crowdsourcing for Museums

For a variety of reasons, institutions and curators aren’t often in a hurry to relinquish messaging and interpretation. However, the latest generation of museum visitors expect interaction and diverse viewpoints.

Museums can use technology to help bring context for visitors.

Visitors are now expecting more from museums, and technology can help bridge the gap.

Leveraging the “collective knowledge” of the community or a number of voices that are knowledgeable on the topic helps satisfy this expectation as well as alleviate the workload for understaffed museums. Technology can assist in both collecting and distributing the perspectives of those voices.

Engaging more voices results in a richer dialogue and logically, more traffic.

Augmented Reality

The technology for museums isn’t quite there yet, but once the ball starts rolling, it will happen fast.

The NMC Horizon Project Short List explains augmented reality as a “layering of information over 3D space” that provides new experiences and perspectives. For those not yet familiar with the technology, it sounds like something out of Blade Runner. But, proofs of concept and work in the field tell us that the technology is not that far away.

One of the factors that has delayed adoption of augmented reality is hardware related: Augmented reality is demanding on batteries and requires significant processor capability. And, for museums, associated costs will be significant.

Still, the move toward an augmented reality experience tells us how the curatorial space is changing and what the evolving visitor expectations are.

Do you represent a museum looking to enhance the visitor experience with technology? Please, tell us about it here.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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