TECHNOLOGY

The Largest Cave In the World Now Available with Facebook Virtual Tours

Facebook is always at an advantage with the progression of the tech and innovation sector. Every year, Facebook holds their developer conference in San Jose, California, called F8. This year, they unveiled updates to their interactive 360 content and WebVR content published, named React 360. The content produced within the technology will be made available on Facebook’s newsfeed, making this type of virtual reality accessible to millions of social media users, without the need of a headset!

But it doesn’t stop there. Of course, in order to show the best quality version of these new updates, Facebook out does the rest. Facebook has teamed up with National Geographic and also presented an updated version of National Geographic’s interactive virtual reality experiment, developed in 2015. The new generation virtual tour has benefited from several updates, such as improved navigation, an explanatory audio guide and a better photographic tone. With Facebook moving towards virtual reality storytelling, it will certainly be part of our every day digital media experiences.

Mountain Cave

Largest Cave In The World 

Recently discovered in Vietnam, Son Doong, considered the largest cave in the world, is now available for a virtual visit. The improvements of the virtual reality experience allow virtual visitors to be transported amidst the enormous stalagmites of this alien and mysterious landscape, in a cave so wide that a Boeing 747 could cross it. In the world of social networking, it's a very big step forward," said Martin Edström, the photographer who took the 360 ° snapshots of Son Doong for National Geographic. "From now on, we can walk in the biggest cave in the world since Facebook".  

big cave

Mountain Cave 

The entrance to Son Doong Cave, which means "Cave of the Mountain River", was discovered in 1991 by Hồ Khanh. Thanks to adapted speleology techniques, the team of scientists and Hồ Khanh began to explore the cave a little more. What they discovered exceeded all their expectations. In 2014, Stockholm-based photojournalist Martin Edström heard about a cave that had been recently discovered in Vietnam, in the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park. This 'cave' was considered the largest in the world, so he jumped on the opportunity to take a picture in virtual reality. 

cave entrance

Cave Entrance 

Formed about 2 to 5 million years ago, this cave is considered the largest in the world. It extends for about 5 km or 3 miles and has many rooms. The rooms being so large they could fit large city skysrapers inside!  As Son Doong is the largest cave in the world, it's home to colossal formations such as the "Hand of the Dog," a 60-meter stalagmite that is also considered the largest in the world. There are also cave pearls the size of bowling balls, which are normally much smaller! Son Doong also has two large sinkholes, where the ceiling of the cave has collapsed, allowing light to penetrate inside, creating perfect conditions for the development of dense prehistoric vegetation in the middle of the cave! 

cave opening

Son Doong Cave Tour 

Unfortunately, with beauty comes seekers. Every year about 800 visitors decend to the depths of the cave and begin their cave exploration for a whopping 2,500€. In 2014, a tourism company unveiled a controversial proposal to build a cable car 10 km through Son Doong starting at the cave opening. A militant network decied to protest this and went around Vietam showing the VR footage to universites, public, and government officials to raise awareness. This case gained such important ance that when Barack Obama addressed the Vietnamese people he announced his protection for the Son Doong 

However, as the world of technology and Innovation continue to develop at a rapid pace, we begin to learn and discover more and more about the planet we live so generously on. It also allows for the public to get in a small glimpse into areas of the world we may never be able to physically visit. We must learn to cherish this technology as a way of helping our enviroment. Instead of having millions of tourists step into the physical cave itself and slowly over time, ruining historic evidence, we can now just log in to Facebook and experience these magical places from our very own homes. 

14 May 2018 by Lisa Scarpa

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