Walk through Skara Brae, experience the Northern Lights; see Scotland virtually

National tourism organisation VisitScotland today announced the release of a virtual travel experience that allows people around the world to immerse themselves in the country’s top attractions. They can walk through the prehistoric village of Skara Brae in Orkney, soar high over Edinburgh Castle, journey into the depths of the Hollow Mountain of Ben Cruachan and experience the Northern Lights – thanks to ScotlandVR.

Featuring state-of-the art 360˚ imagery and footage, users start their journey in a virtual glen complete with moo-ing Highland Cow, crackling fire and bellowing stag. From there, they can jump into a map of Scotland and experience 26 attractions covering every region of the country. The whole environment can be experienced in stereoscopic 3D when used with a Google Cardboard virtual reality headset, in 360˚ view using gyroscope phone technology or by touchscreen also in phone mode.

The Scotland VR app is the result of a collaborative between Scotland’s academic, technology and tourism sectors. As part of the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, VisitScotland challenged young talent from Scotland’s academia to create an exciting, interactive digital product designed to inspire and motivate people to visit Scotland.

The winners of the competition were a team from Edinburgh Napier University, led by Professor David Benyon and Dr Oli Mival who developed the concept for an innovative app in which to explore a virtual Scotland. The final ScotlandVR app was created by Edinburgh-based digital and creative agency, Whitespace in association with VisitScotland and Edinburgh Napier University.

The app launched with 26 attractions, but attractions will be added in updates to the software. The landmark locations for launch were chosen from set criteria including footfall, product diversity, online searches, showcasing attractions with innovative architecture and design and links to the current 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“Far from being a fad or gimmick,” said Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, “VR is revolutionising the way people choose the destinations they might visit by allowing them to ‘try before they buy’ and learn more about the country in an unique and interactive way.”

Phillip Lockwood-Holmes, Managing Partner at Whitespace, added: “ScotlandVR has been a fantastic project for us to bring to life with the teams from VisitScotland, Napier University and XDesign. Combining inspiring 360s of fantastic sites across Scotland, beautifully creative 3D models and the latest in immersive mobile technology.”

The launch attractions are:

Attraction Region
Abbotsford House Scottish Borders
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum Ayrshire
Cairngorms National Park Highlands
Calanais Standing Stones Outer Hebrides
Cruachan The Hollow Mountain Argyll and Bute
Dunnottar Castle Aberdeenshire
Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh and Lothians
Eilean Donan Castle Highlands
The Falkirk Wheel Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling and Forth Valley
Falkland Palace and Garden Fife
Forth Bridges Fife / Edinburgh and Lothians
Galloway Forest Park Dumfries and Galloway
Glasgow Cathedral Glasgow
Glenfinnan Viaduct Highlands
The Kelpies Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling and Forth Valley
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Glasgow
National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh and Lothians
New Lanark World Heritage Site Lanarkshire
Riverside Museum Glasgow
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Edinburgh and Lothians
RRS Discovery Dundee and Angus
The Scottish Crannog Centre and Loch Tay Perthshire
Skara Brae Orkney
Strathisla Distillery Moray
The National Wallace Monument Stirlingshire
Shetland Museum and Archives Shetland