A new Web site allows people to
walk around downtown Springfield, roam the halls of the
Old State Capitol and check out what's on a restaurant
buffet, all with a few mouse clicks.
E-motion, a Springfield-based Web design company,
recently launched www.springfield-vr.com, which features
"virtual-reality" tours of the Lincoln sites and other
local tourist hot spots.
Mark Edwards, co-owner of the company, also is
selling space on the site to local businesses who want
VR tours - which allow a Web surfer to rotate through a
360-degree photograph - of their dining rooms, sales
floors or anything else worth looking at.
VR tours have been around on the Web for a while. But
Edwards says the unique mix of technology and software
he uses to shoot and sew the images together makes for a
clear, crisp, lifelike view.
"If a picture is worth a thousand words, a VR is
worth a million," he said.
The site has VR tours for nine tourist sites,
including the two state capitol buildings; the Lincoln
home, tomb, depot and law office; the Dana-Thomas House;
Vachel Lindsay Home and New Salem.
Edwards said he shot and posted those historic site
tours at no cost to the state. He does have an informal
agreement with the historic site managers to trade Web
site links between his and the state Web sites.
The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau also
expects to post a link on their site to Edwards' site.
"It really gives people a good look at what
Springfield has to offer," said Tim Farley, executive
director of the bureau. "We could never do that with a
brochure, so it gives them a better look at what they
could potentially see in Springfield."
In addition to the tourist spots, the Web site allows
users to click on a map of downtown Springfield to view
VRs that will "walk" a person up and down Fifth and
Sixth streets between Jefferson and Monroe streets.
Edwards is hoping businesses will want to get in on
the Web site.
For $300, Edwards' company will shoot and post a
single 360-degree photograph. It'll cost another $300
for each additional VR of another room or area. It will
cost an extra $300 a year to stay connected to the site,
As of Friday, one restaurant, Holy Land Diner, 518 E.
Adams St., had a VR tour of its dining room on the site.
Edwards said more businesses will be posted soon.
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What: Springfield virtual
reality Web site
Edwards said he started with VR
last year when he created a site for a bed and breakfast
he visited in Arizona. He then did a virtual walk-around
of St. Charles, Mo.
Springfield is his first try at a citywide VR site.
He plans to create a Chicago site soon and add new
cities from there.
The Springfield site requires users to have QuickTime
image-viewing software loaded on their computer. The
program is available for free by clicking a link on the
Jason Piscia can be reached at 788-1525 or