Travel industry, travelers could find new opportunities using virtual travel

Virtual travel

A new proposal for virtual travel, using advanced mathematical techniques and combining livestream video with present photos and videos of travel hotspots, can help stabilize a business that has been devastated from the coronavirus pandemic, according to researchers at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta University.

In a new proposal published in Cell Patterns, Dr. Arni S.R. Srinivasa Rao, a mathematical modeler and director of the medical school’s Laboratory for Theory and Mathematical Modeling, and co-author Dr. Steven Krantz, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Washington University, imply using data science to improve existing television and at-home tourism experiences. Their technique involves measuring then digitizing the curvatures and angles of items and the distances between them with drone footage, photographs and videos, and might make virtual traveling experiences more realistic for audiences and help revitalize the tourism industry.

They call this suggested technology LAPO or Live Streaming with Actual Proportionality of Things. LAPO employs both information geometry – the measures of an item’s curvatures, angles and area – and conformal mapping, which uses the measures of angles between the curves of the object and accounts to the space between objects, to create images of people, places and things look more real.

“This is about having a new kind of technology that uses advanced mathematical techniques to turn digitized data, captured live at a tourist site, into more realistic photos and videos with more of a feel for the location than you would get watching amovie or documentary,” says corresponding author Rao. “When you go see the Statue of Liberty for instance, you stand on the bank of the Hudson River and look at it. When you watch a video of it, you can only see the object from one angle. When you measure and preserve multiple angles and digitize that in video form, you could visualize it from multiple angles. You would feel like you’re there while you’re sitting at home.”

Their suggested mix of techniques is unique, Rao says. “Information geometry has seen wide applications in physics and economics, but the angle preservation of the captured footage is never applied,” he says.

Rao and Krantz say the technology could help mediate some of the Pandemic’s effect on the tourism industry and offer additional advantages.

Those include its cost-effectiveness, because virtual tourism could be cheaper; health safety, because it can be done from the comfort of home; it saves time, eliminating travel times; it’s access – tourism hotspots which aren’t routinely accessible to seniors or those with physical disabilities are; it is safer and more protected, eliminating dangers like becoming a victim of crime when traveling; and it requires no special equipment – some standard home computer using a graphics card and internet access is all that is needed to appreciate a virtual excursion.

“Virtual tourism (also) creates new employment opportunities for virtual tour guides, interpreters, drone pilots, videographers and photographers, as well as those building the new equipment for virtual tourism,” the authors write.

“People would pay for these experiences like they pay airlines, hotels and tourist spots during regular travel,” Rao says. “The payments could go to each individual involved in creating the experience or to a company that creates the entire trip, for example.”

“Virtual tourism (additionally ) creates new employment opportunities for Digital tour guides, interpreters, drone pilots, videographers and photographers, as well as those building the newest gear for virtual tourism,” the authors write.

“People would cover these experiences like they cover airlines, Hotels and tourist spots during routine traveling,” Rao says. “The payments could go to every individual involved with producing the experience or to a business which produces the whole trip, for instance”

Next steps include searching for investors and partners in the hospitality, tourism and technology industries, he says.

If the pandemic lasts for several more months then the World Travel and Tourism Council projects a global loss of 75 million jobs and $2.1 trillion In earnings.

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