GRANITE CITY GROOVE: Virtual Reality Studio Blazes New Trail

by Joshua Jerome

Nestled in Barre’s co-working space, The Office Block at 248 N. Main St., resides another young Barre business, Immersive Technology Studios; a virtual reality company working towards “bridging the gap between the real and digital world.” Owned by Andrew Glover, Immersive Technology Studios utilizes new spherical imaging processes and software to take images of physical spaces and convert them into interactive experiences that can be applied across different platforms. And if you don’t know what that means you are not alone.

The new technology has only become available for use in the consumer marketplace within the last year while developers have had it almost four. This technology provides a 360-degree experience of a physical location through a digital platform that is being utilized by businesses, museums and real estate companies. However, the newest project at Immersive Technology Studios is aimed at bringing the experience of climbing Vermont’s highest mountainous peaks right into your living room or wherever you have good service for your smartphone.

The project is called Vermont Peaks and Glover just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund it. The goal is to produce a virtual reality experience that will allow individuals to view the Vermont landscape of the “five tallest peaks in five minutes.” Because of conditions on the trails this time of year, the project cannot commence until June 1, when Glover and his team can begin accessing the trails safely as they will need to transport equipment to the top of all five peaks. Weather is an unknown factor also as it can be beautiful at the base, but fogged in at the top. The project is scheduled to take a few months with the rollout of the final product in early fall.

As I spoke with Glover about Vermont Peaks I could see he was passionate about utilizing this new technology. He explained to me that he’s always looking for new ways to help his clients connect with their customers. However, Vermont Peaks is a project that helps deliver the experience of being on top of Vermont that many of us take for granted. The ability to virtually transport yourself to and from anywhere in the world has many applications across several industries, but Glover believes that it can best be utilized in education. He described to me how amazing the experience could be if this technology could be used in our educational institutions when teaching students about the Battle of Gettysburg or exploring the Grand Canyon.

Individuals who go on to the Kickstarter campaign can see the various levels of support that are available and for only $25, a backer of the project will receive a custom manufactured virtual reality headset. Once the project is completed, Glover and his team will utilize software to create the virtual reality experience. Once completed, backers will receive a link where they will need to use their smartphone that fits snugly into their VR headset in order to propel themselves onto Vermont’s five tallest peaks.

Of course, this technology is not meant to replace the actual experience of being on top of a mountain, but it provides access to those who can’t and that’s really important to Glover. I said that sometimes when my two children are testing my patience, it would be really nice to be able to virtually transport myself to my happy place. Glover, a father of two young children himself looked at me with excitement and said, “where do you want to go.” And there we were, two young fathers in downtown Barre sharing our experiences and talking about where we wanted to virtually transport ourselves with this new technology. Amazing. To find out more, and try out a demo of this technology you can go to: www.vermontpeaks.com.

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