Over the years, the term “virtual tour” has been gradually evolving and changing its meaning. Before the emergence of the abovementioned innovative solutions, a slideshow or a series of panoramic images was legitimately called a “virtual tour”. However, nowadays, the meaning of this term is rapidly shifting towards something much more sophisticated and advanced.
Interestingly enough, the same thing happened to the term “virtual reality”, which used to be widely applied to the same 360-degree photographs.
“Even before there was virtual reality, the International Virtual Reality Photography Association (IVRPA) used the term Virtual Reality to describe 360ºs photos”, says Dan Smigrod. Simply put, you cannot use panoramic images and call them “virtual reality” anymore if you want to be properly understood because the meaning has changed drastically.
We are witnessing the same process for the words “virtual tour” and “virtual walkthrough”. So, let’s take a look at the most up-to-date meaning of these terms.
Virtual Tour is a general term used for a variety of tools and solutions ranging from slideshows, photos, and websites to 3D Tours and Virtual Reality experiences. We can see that this is rather an umbrella term that might have multiple meanings due to the meaning of the words “virtual” and “tour”, which basically may encompass any representation of the property done with some sort of computer device.
At the same time, 3D Tour (or 3D Virtual Tour) is a series of 360° images, also called photospheres, panoramas, or panos, where a user can navigate from one 360° image to another. This is a more specific term used for platforms like iGUIDE, Matterport, or Asteroom. More can be read about this definition in the White Paper, prepared by Alexander Likholyot, CEO of Planitar Inc, the maker of iGUIDE.