A Kinross-shire business that produces virtual tours for wedding venues, art galleries and estate agents is set for international expansion.
360 Virtual Studios offers 3D virtual tours to a range of businesses, including wedding venues and visitor attractions.
The 3D tours allow a virtual visitor to walk through a building, while examining a high resolution, true-to-life rendition of the layout, furniture, fixtures and even the views from windows.
The company’s tours allow visitors to take detailed measurements of rooms, windows and fixtures.
Key features can be highlighted with additional information in the form of text, photographs, video or links to an e-commerce site.
The firm works with clients all over Scotland, but is now set to launch in South Africa.
Managing director Michelle Milnes is originally from Pretoria, but moved to Scotland 15 years ago.
She said: “It wasn’t through any connection that we were approached.
“We work with Dovecot Studio in Edinburgh and the story about museums looking to survive was picked up by a radio station in South Africa.
“Someone then got in contact with us and said ‘do you service South Africa’.
“The first job we’ve got there is at the Huguenot Memorial Museum in Franschhoek.
“I’m a Huguenot descendant, so it’s really bonkers.”
Feeling ‘trapped’ after the pandemic
The firm, which has 43 employees, has formed a partnership with social enterprise Invisible Cities in a bid to take the project further.
Ms Milnes said: “One of the side affects of Covid is a feeling of being trapped because we’ve not been able to go somewhere.
“I’ve never felt that before.
“We said we could take the tours to a nursing home.
“The tour might have been the type of thing the residents did when they were younger or more able.
“For that 15 to 20 minutes they are completely transformed from being stuck indoors.
“We’re taking the technology and saying we can shoot the tours and they can be taken to people.”
The partnership will also see tours given to school pupils.
Helping companies keep afloat
Ms Milnes admitted that was “bittersweet” with other companies struggling.
She added: “It helped to keep some of the smaller businesses we work with afloat.
“We started to get a lot of interest from non-property companies about virtual tours.
“We weren’t actively looking at taking the technology to a new market.”
The managing director is also confident that, if a third wave of Covid-19 forces shops to close, her business would may help them continue to operate.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced there would be no immediate change to lockdown rules.
Ms Milnes believes that if restrictions are tightened again, her business can help other retailers.
She said: “If the third wave brings renewed physical trading restrictions, we can help trade continue online.
“Our clients’ experiences can be replicated by other businesses and benefit Scotland.”