Intel Museum Virtual Tour


Santa Clara, CA

A fully interactive, online digital twin brings exhibits and history to life for visitors from anywhere in the world.

The Ask

Closed to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Intel Museum saw an opportunity to make its educational and historical content available to a worldwide audience with an online virtual museum tour.

The Journey

Work with museum staff to capture the entire museum in incredibly-detailed panoramic and 3D imagery, to create a high-fidelity experience that was as fulfilling as a real visit.

The Solution

A web and mobile-friendly online digital twin that encompasses the entire museum, paired with 3D scans of key artifacts and online versions of digital interactive exhibits, all available to audiences worldwide.

An iconic corporate museum reaches new audiences worldwide

The Intel Museum in many ways represents the history of Silicon Valley, with co-founders Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore creating the modern semiconductor industry (which ultimately led to the computer you're reading this post on right now). Focused on history and education, the museum draws over 80,000 visitors a year to its compact 3,500 square foot facility.

When the pandemic hit, museum leadership saw an opportunity to keep the doors open virtually by creating a high-fidelity virtual museum tour. This experience would serve visitors during the pandemic and open up new opportunities to bring their unique content and stories to a global audience.

A screenshot from the opening view of the interactive virtual museum tour. Hotspots on the floor indicate where users should click to begin their self-guided exploration.
A gigapixel panoramic image showing the interior of a virtual museum tour.

Over 50 high-resolution gigapixel panoramic photos were captured using a robotic camera head and stitched together to create a seamless digital twin of the museum.

A high-fidelity, museum-centric digital twin

While many are familiar with virtual 360-degree tours in the real estate industry, these tours are intended solely to give online visitors an overall "feel" for a space, and fall short of providing specific context and deeper dives into curated content and exhibits that museums require.

Stimulant's virtual museum tour focused specifically on the needs of the museum and its educational goals. We facilitated an onsite photoshoot, capturing extremely high-resolution 360-degreee gigapixel panoramas from key locations throughout the space. This enabled us to make the tour exhibit-centric, and also to make the shoot repeatable in the future to incorporate new exhibits as they are installed. When the museum gets updated, we need only reshoot the specific locations which have changed, which are then processed and become a quick, drop-in replacement.

Capturing artifacts in 3D

The Intel Museum manages a vast collection of historical artifacts, including many of the company's first (and most groundbreaking) products. Rather than model virtual versions of these using modern tools, Stimulant worked with an experienced photogrammetry team to shoot 360-degree versions of the actual chips themselves, capturing real details like bent pins and tarnish and making them chips explorable in 3D. These interactive 3D models show up inline within the tour, allowing visitors to inspect them closely without leaving the virtual museum tour experience.

Getting up close and personal with exhibits

While the navigable virtual tour is captured at a higher resolution than most online tours, certain exhibits warrant closer inspection. Key exhibits feature zoomable photos that allow visitors to get even closer than they could in the real museum.

Deep dives into exhibit content

Many exhibits in the museum encourage visitors to get more information by visiting hyperlinks on their mobile phones. With this custom platform, we were able to place much of that content directly into the hotspots for the exhibits, including inline videos.

A more immersive experience

The museum has several exhibits that include video content playing back on a display. The virtual museum maps those videos directly onto the same displays in 3D space, with audible soundtracks when standing in front of the exhibit. This more closely matches the experience of being in the real museum, and adds a subtle layer of "being there" to the virtual tour.

The intel museum virtual tour includes a link to an interactive corporate timeline which is available both online and in a physical exhibit.

Intel's new interactive corporate timeline is available in the museum with a touch-driven interface, and online in a responsive web format for touch and mobile.

Experiential interactives, reimagined online

With this new online version in place, the museum has a new platform supporting its educational mission. The museum features over a dozen digital interactive exhibits, which can now be ported to the web for online interaction.

One example is the Intel Corporate Timeline, a touchscreen-based exhibit that includes 53-years of innovations and products, people, advertisements, and financials. It's the first exhibit to feature a full-fidelity online counterpart, which pulls from the same content management system (CMS) for updates to both the physical and online exhibits at the same time. Efforts are underway to create interactive online versions of many key exhibits, and all new exhibits created moving forward will be deployed to both the physical and virtual museums.

Screenshots showing the virtual museum tour on the web and on a mobile browser.

Desktop and mobile today, VR-ready

The tour works seamlessly on both mobile and desktop, with multiple levels of resolution available for a variety of different bandwidth scenarios. With future plans to take their show on the road, the platform was built to support a VR-version of the tour.

With this new interactive virtual museum tour, the Intel Museum has a platform that enables it to radically scale up its educational mission and share its unique and storied content with audiences worldwide.