About RealPlaces
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RealPlaces is the creation of 4 quiet tech industry veterans in sunny (yes, that's a joke!) Seattle. We enjoy sharing visual walkarounds from our region with people around the world.

Tell us what you like, don't like, and what you'd like to see!

To contact us

For fastest response please use our Contact Page.

Or you can send dead tree correspondence to us at:

RealPlaces, Inc.
12345 Lake City Way N.E. #116
Seattle, WA 98125
Believe it or not, RealPlaces is based on a project that was developed waaaay back in 1999, which in Internet Years is a lifetime ago. This was years before Google Maps, let alone any of the copycats. If there's interest (and time) maybe we'll write up a little history of RealPlaces at some point...

Our goal is to allow anyone to virtually walk around anywhere in the real world with a first-person perspective -- at least all visitable areas. This is an admittedly ambitious goal, but we believe in the power of the masses.

A couple large companies have specially-equipped vehicles driving around gathering ground-level pictures, which gets them lots of from-the-street pictures in selected cities. It's a neat accomplishment. Really. But... it's limited to where the vehicles can travel, (so much of the imagery is pretty boring); there's no way to peer around objects, or zoom in to see very fine details of particular objects of interest; and most importantly, there's no way for you to create your own places with your own descriptions and information!

RealPlaces, on the other hand, is built by you: Real People. Since we are not restricted to on-street imagery, and we allow for human creativity, our users can create more interesting places and photos. And as we grow, we can naturally and organically assemble the kind of fine details about the world than can only be produced by many individual people.
Why Still Images?
QuickTime VR and other 'stitching' technologies have been around for several years, so why do we use still images? There are a few reasons:

  1. Speed
    Traditional VR panoramas are large, and take time to download. And when they include fine detail they can get very large. Because we use independent still images, a user can fluidly walk straight through a Place without being forced to download lots of data that they don't care about. It also allows us to optimize in ways that traditional VR doesn't.

  2. Creative Freedom
    By using still images, users can be more creative - especially with zoomed views. Zooms are not resolution-limited in any way, and don't need to be shot from the same angle or position as the main views. So RealPlaces zooms allow better and more detailed visual information than would be practical (or even possible) with traditional VR data.

  3. Slop Factor and "Fixability"
    With still images you don't have to be perfect. If an image is tilted or has bad lighting, it's okay! Try again later - or not! Images can overlap by a little, a lot, or not at all.

    If someone has a better photo of a view or zoom in one of your Places, they can send it to you to as a replacement. Or they can send an interesting zoomed view from another angle, or time of day, or season. You can even use other people's existing photos to make awesome zooms (be careful about usage rights and/or attribution). Go wild.

  4. No Plug-ins!
    Because we use still images and javascript/ajax, we do not require any plug-ins. No Flash, no Java, no downloads, no nothin'! This means better compatibility, and in fact, even though we haven't (yet) optimized for it whatsoever, it is possible to find and walk around Places on an iPhone/iPad. (If you are an experienced iOS/Cocoa developer and are interested in working with us on a native iPhone app, let us know)

  5. Combined Technologies
    Using still images for basic navigation does not preclude the use of other data types, such as QTVR, video clips, etc. together with the still images to enhance the experience. We just don't require it.

And we have many more tricks up our sleeves to make the existing system more immersive, easier to use, etc. But you'll just have to wait and see....
Real Places - By Real People, For Real People