Mapping World’s Greatest Archaeological Sites with Virtual Reality
Few countries in the world have experienced such rapid discovery of technology than Myanmar which has leapfrogged from the analogue to the digital era in just a few years.
During the decades of outright junta rule, which ended in 2011, it was one of the world's most isolated nations, a place where a mobile phone sim card could cost up to $3,000.
For half a century its paranoid generals cut off the country, restricting sales of computers, heavily censoring the Internet and blocking access to foreign media reports.
But today phone towers are springing up around the country and almost 80 per cent of the population have access to the Internet through smartphones, according to telecoms giant Telenor.
Tech startups are emerging around the commercial capital Yangon, many seeking to improve the lives of rural people, most of whom still live without paved roads or electricity.
"The increase in activity from last year till now -- new startups, more people determined to become entrepreneurs and working in the tech sector in general -- is significant," said Jes Kaliebe Peterson, CEO of community hub Phandeeyar.
Virtual reality is the latest advance to cause a stir, with a handful of entrepreneurs embracing tech for projects including preserving ancient temple sites to shaping young minds of the future.
The Phandeeyar incubator works with more than 140 startups. Among them is 3xvivr Virtual Reality Production which launches a large drone into the skies above Bagan, one of Myanmar's most famous tourist sites.
Bagan in central Myanmar is one of the world's greatest archeological sites, a sight to rival Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat. It occupies an impressive 26-sq-mile area. Some 2,230 of an original 4,450 temples survive, a legacy of the Buddhist belief that to build a temple was to earn merit. Most are superbly preserved or have been restored by UNESCO.
The drone, which carries a 360-camera, circles one of the many ninth-to-thirteenth century temples that dot the landscape of what was once a sprawling ancient city.
The data it records allows those with virtual reality headsets to explore the temples, their crumbling centuries-old walls so close it feels like you can touch them.
3xvivr Virtual Reality Production founder, a former head of the local TV station, Nyi Lin Seck says he makes most of his money providing virtual reality footage for hotels and luxury apartments.
But after an earthquake damaged the Bagan site last year, he vowed to use the tech to preserve a digital replica of Myanmar's archaeological treasures.
"A lot of artworks on the pagodas collapsed and were lost. Using this technology, we can record up to 99 per cent of the ancient art," he says.