Presenting a bird's eye-view
THERE ARE a number of ancient tall monuments all over the world which attract hordes of tourists eager to climb to the top and savour the panoramic, bird's eye-view of the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, in the case of many such edifices, access to the top is via narrow, crumbling staircases that cannot be negotiated by the elderly or are downright dangerous to use.
That leaves the visitor frustrated and dissatisfied. Examples of such places in India are the Qutub Minar in Delhi, the Char Minar in Hyderabad and the main gopuram of the Meenatchi temple in Madurai.
Now, the R & D Centre of the Delhi-based NIIT Ltd. has come up with an ingenious, Information Technology based solution to this problem which enables visitors to enjoy the view from the top of such monuments, without actually climbing to the top.
The solution, called Remote Presence System, is in place at Char Minar from June this year. A second such system has been installed at the Qutub Minar in Delhi.
The Remote Presence System at the Char Minar consists of four telerobotic cameras installed on each minaret. These cameras can be oriented and zoomed remotely and individually from a computer on the ground.
A coin operated Viewing Kiosk with Camera Control is installed below one of the minarets, and has proprietary hardware and software to control the tele-robotic cameras. The video from these cameras is fed in a custom-built video selector interfaced to a PC (computer).
Tourists can orient or zoom these cameras using the touch-screen based interface software provided at the kiosk. They can also take pictures and print the same on a colour printer provided with the kiosk. Provision for sending email is also built into the application so that the tourist can send these pictures to his/her friends and relatives, straight from Charminar. The system uses a patented embedded controller based technology developed at NIIT's R&D Centre in New Delhi. The system also has a guided tour option.
This automatically orients the cameras towards important sites, as seen from the top. These include Mecca Masjid, Falaknuma palace, High Court and several other monuments built during the Nizam era. Relevant commentary is played in synchronism with the display. Tourists can hear the commentary in English, Telugu and Hindi.
A general viewing TV Kiosk is also provided for those who just want to see the view from the top but do not want to control the cameras.
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