“Horizon of Khufu” and “Life Chronicles” VR Tours Bring History & Science to Life in London

June 27, 2024

Technology is coming along FAST and more entertaining and educational than ever! This type of technology has recently come to London through "Horizon of Khufu" and "Life Chronicles," the city's two newest immersive VR tours. They are designed to educate and engage guests in exploring unique environments and encountering historical figures and creatures that are not easily accessible to anyone.

The VR experience, at first, was intimidating and exciting. Most people only know it right now through Oculus Rift and PlayStation technology in a gaming sense rather than as a tour so. he thought of being instantly transported to a faraway place without the physical challenge of going on planes and traveling by land and encountering creatures, landmarks, and historical figures up close was fascinating. 

The experiences are made possible through high-quality VR headsets worn over your head while walking around a large, empty space. The common worries one might have during this activity are bumping into other guests (which might be impossible with your virtual tour guide and marshalls physically present in the venue), bumping into walls (which was almost impossible since the briefing will teach you to avoid red walls you'd see in the graphics), and that your feet and legs will be tired of standing during the entire duration of the physical tour (I advise you to wear your most comfortable shoes!).

Creatures in one of the settings in Life Chronicles. Photo by Mondes Disparus.

The virtual guides (Mona for Horizon of Khufu, and Charlie for Life Chronicles) and other guests' quiet chatter were distracting at some point. The constant challenge I faced when doing the VR tour with the group was to stay focused on listening to my headset without getting distracted by the quiet chatter of the other groups in the room. 

"Horizon of Khufu" was brought to London in late 2023 through the collaboration of Emissive (a French company) and Peter Der Manuelian (a Harvard Eyptiologist for the accuracy of the visuals). 

Once you don your headset, you're going on an adventure to explore the Great Pyramid of Giza, the pyramid's interior and exterior, ancient rituals performed during the time, and the Nile River. You also meet the cat goddess Bastet along the way (which was cute and hard to resist!). Along with Mona, you’ll meet the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt and learn about how death and the afterlife is interconnected with Egyptian ritual practices. You’ll walk the path of people who lived 4,500 years ago, learning their customs and traditions as they do it in front of you. The virtual tour was impressive, bringing to life the vast pyramids you’d only read and see in books. While climbing the peak, you might feel a tad dizzy because it really felt as if you were on the peak of Egypt. Nauseous, but you’d still be filled with so much wonder and excitement.

Mummification as seen in Horizon of Khufu. Photo by Emissive / Excurio

"Life Chronicles" is an entirely different experience, delving into the science of Earth's early times. It's similar to how one might experience "Horizon of Khufu," but this time, you'll walk the Earth in its state billion years ago while exploring diverse ecosystems. The creators, Excurio and Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle of Paris, had done an excellent job in the world-building of the Archean era, Cambrian era, Cretaceous era, and when the first humans appeared. 

You’ll be moving through jungles where Pterodactyls, Triceratops and other creatures from the Cretaceous era lived and interacted with one another. The tour guide, Charlie with the robot Darwin, is there to share some facts about the characteristics of the paleo-landscape and the background of the creatures who inhabited the area. Although the VR experience cannot compare to seeing real animals and plants, it still creates a surreal feeling. The visuals are accompanied by an immersive soundscape making the experience 360 degrees! It can surprise you at certain points, making it seem like creatures are too close or as if you are about to trip over a rock or fall! 

One of the jungles you can explore in Life Chronicles. Photo by Credits : Emissive / Excurio

Experiencing "Horizons of Khufu" and "Life Chronicles" is truly immersive and different from learning through a web browser or book. For adults, these virtual tours are memorable and the technology is cutting edge, something I'd highly recommend you experience in your life even for a couple of times.. I imagine kids would have a lot of fun too in these experiences. They would surely have a blast seeing dinosaurs and other animals “up close” while experiencing interactive learning -we learned a lot even as adults and were wishing this was the educational experience we could have had growing up!. The tours are a huge success; they're expanding to other European and Asian countries, attesting to their popularity and quality. If you have a free half-day, book a ticket and take a leap in traveling to another world without leaving London (at least, only virtually!)

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