Virtual tours now available for local businesses

December 21, 2018 GMT

SCOTTSBLUFF — The same technology that made Google Street View and Google Maps possible has rolled out locally with a company that can create 3-D virtual tours of building interiors.

Christian Parra and Misty Aulick both work in their own businesses. But about a year ago, they joined their tech and sales skills to form VRtek LLC.

“We photograph virtual tours for real estate and for commercial properties,” Parra said. “After we upload the tour to Google, anyone can go online and see exactly what the building interior looks like. It goes a lot further than just looking at a picture of the building exterior.”

One of VRtek’s first projects was creating a 3-D interior virtual tour of the Railway Office Plaza in Scottsbluff, where the company offices are located.

“It’s the same technology as Google Street View that’s used outdoors,” Parra said. “It’s only a couple of years old, so a lot of businesses are still looking at how they can use it.”

Virtual tours can be done for commercial buildings and residences. VRtek has photographed about 30 tours, including the Panhandle Humane Society and the new Elite Health Center.

“We’re the only Google trusted photographers in the Panhandle.” Christian said. “Whenever we upload new material, we’re verified by Google.”

An advantage of having a Google verified photographer nearby is that businesses don’t have to go directly to Google to get online. Business owners can work directly with VRtek, which then handles the submission process.

When a business needs to update its information, a verified Google professional can take care of the changes quickly.

Aulick said the 3-D virtual tour is extremely detailed once it’s completed. The process begins with a specialized camera that spins 360 degrees as it takes photos.

The camera is moved every five to six feet to include every space in the building. The individual images are then digitally stitched together to create a 3-D rendering that can be viewed from any number of angles.

“This technology is pretty new, but as time goes on I think more people will realize its benefits and I see the demand increasing,” Aulick said. “A big plus is having the ability to take a tour of a company without physically being there.”

VRtek is currently working with a local college to photograph a virtual tour of the campus, including dormitories. That would allow potential students to have a better understanding of the school even before they visit.

“We’d like to see every business in Scottsbluff have a 3-D virtual tour done of their buildings and be visible on Google Earth,” Aulick said. “That’s our first goal. Then we’d like to expand to Gering, Minatare and beyond. It’s a wonderful tool for businesses that are looking for space to expand.”