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Spherical panoramas, those that incorporate a full 360 x 180 degree field of view, provide the most immersive panoramic experience available. The viewer can turn in any direction and see the details of the surrounding environment - from vertically above the head to the patch of ground on which they are standing (without their feet!), and in any other direction. They are essentially at the centre of a bubble, or sphere, on which is displayed a seamless view of the surroundings. The experience for the viewer is totally immersive and approaches reality, giving rise to the terms "immersive photography" and "virtual reality".

Many terms are used to describe immersive visual experiences, including virtual reality, panoramic photography, virtual tours, 360-degree imagery, spherical photography etc. In most cases virtual reality is a purely visual experience, but additional sensory information such as sound may also be incorporated. Spherical panoramic photography might therefore be regarded as the first stage, or the simplest implementation, of virtual reality.

A gallery of spherical panoramas (360 x 180 degrees), together with information on how they may be created, may be found under Virtual Reality or in the Galleries section.


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