Chicago adds virtual tours for visitors

The city of Chicago unveiled new touch screen technology at the O’Hare International Airport to acquaint people with what the city has to offer.

Fifty touchscreen computers are now located throughout the airport, with two “Explore Chicago” technology lounges in Terminal 2. The touchscreens feature the city’s new tourism Web site.

The installation was made possible through technology sponsor HP with additional support from NASA and, a provider of technology that allows users to create and share high-resolution panoramic images.

“We are excited to partner with HP to feature innovative and engaging technology that showcases our beautiful city,” said Acting Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino. “O’Hare International Airport is the global entry to Chicago and an ideal location to promote the city’s vibrant culture, rich diversity and unique attractions.”

The lounges feature 30-foot by 10-foot GigaPan ultra high-resolution panoramas that show Chicago locations in detail, including the skyline, Millennium Park and the interior of the Field Museum. The touchscreens additionally allow visitors to explore Chicago virtually by viewing the GigaPan panoramas in detail. Two computers will be available to explore NASA’s Web site.

“The innovative HP TouchSmart PCs will provide an excellent way for travelers to view Chicago’s new tourism Web site,,” said Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg.

The Explore Chicago Web site includes listings of current events, tours and attractions; multi-media content that includes audio tours, slideshows and video clips; information on Chicago’s neighborhoods; and a virtual visitor's center with downloadable brochures, maps and resources for travelers.

Thirty-five thousand visitors travel through the airport each week. The technology will enable even non-tech savvy individuals to access information with the touch of a finger without having to use a keyboard or mouse.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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