New 360-degree virtual tours of China Camp now online

Easy-to-use online tool lets you explore two of the park’s historic sites

Curtain up! Our innovative “360-degree” virtual tours of the museum and cafe at China Camp Village have launched. Now, people will be able to get a taste of what’s on display at China Camp, simply by accessing the tours remotely via their PCs, laptops, tablets, or mobile device.

The easy-to-use tours let you use you move around the two spaces, clicking on illuminated circles to zoom in and learn more about an object or image on display.

Originally inspired by Friends of China Camp Board Member Ed Lai, the virtual tours use special technology that allows viewers to roam around the two locations. The virtual tours let the viewer click on key points to pull up detailed information about the park and its history. In practice, the experience resembles a version of the technology used by Google Map’s “street view,” where you can move down a roadway, pausing to look more closely when something catches your eye.

Lai originally saw the technology being used to create a virtual tour for the San Francisco-based Chinese Historical Society of America. “It was a way to provide more accessibility,” notes Lai. “I thought that the virtual tours could let people see China Camp without actually being here,” he adds, “and potentially inspire them to come visit.”

Threat of rising seas gave Lai a sense of urgency

Creating a lasting legacy of the village was another reason Lai liked the project. “I’m concerned about climate change, and sea-level rise,” he explains. “We can’t just pick up the buildings and move them.” Creating virtual documentation of the museum and the memorabilia-filled cafe could help “preserve what the village looks like now, before higher water levels might change things,” says Lai.

Friends of China Camp staff and volunteers worked with Michael Chandler of Third Eye Visuals to create the two tours. Chandler used specialized virtual-reality technology and equipment to capture the locations. Next, he added detailed information for an engaging and enlightening virtual experience. Future versions, with incorporated sound and video and adapted for specific age or ethnic groups, are being evaluated.

FOCC is thrilled to offer this creative new way to connect with people and share the story of China Camp. We hope you enjoy it.

Photo: Harriot Manley