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High-tech fun rivals view at Seattle Space Needle

New high-tech attractions at Seattle's Space Needle take focus off the view

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors walk past the Space Needle in Seattle. A new Space Needle tablet and mobile phone app and accompanying hi...
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors use a new high-tech attraction as others take in a 360-degree view of the city atop the Space Needle in S...
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, Anan Bishara, left, and Denise Burrell, right, both from New York, check out a virtual reality display that lets v...
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, Fernando Fass, left, and Marie Schulz, right, of London, check a registry of visitors  at the Space Needle in Seat...
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors to the Space Needle in Seattle walk past a circle on the floor that produces an animated image of the Spa...
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, Marie Schulz, of London, poses for a photo with her new tattoo featuring the  Seattle skyline, atop the the Space ...
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, a screen displays information on the new tablet and mobile phone app as visitors take in the view atop the Space N...
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors take photos atop to the Space Needle in Seattle. New high-tech displays at the Space Needle will now allo...
In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors to the Space Needle in Seattle interact with a large touch-screen photo display wall that lets visitors s...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors walk past the Space Needle in Seattle. A new Space Needle tablet and mobile phone app and accompanying hi...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors use a new high-tech attraction as others take in a 360-degree view of the city atop the Space Needle in S...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, Anan Bishara, left, and Denise Burrell, right, both from New York, check out a virtual reality display that lets v...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, Fernando Fass, left, and Marie Schulz, right, of London, check a registry of visitors at the Space Needle in Seat...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors to the Space Needle in Seattle walk past a circle on the floor that produces an animated image of the Spa...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, Marie Schulz, of London, poses for a photo with her new tattoo featuring the Seattle skyline, atop the the Space ...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, a screen displays information on the new tablet and mobile phone app as visitors take in the view atop the Space N...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors take photos atop to the Space Needle in Seattle. New high-tech displays at the Space Needle will now allo...

High Tech Space Needle

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2014, visitors to the Space Needle in Seattle interact with a large touch-screen photo display wall that lets visitors s...

SEATTLE (AP) -- Visitors to Seattle's Space Needle are treated to a gorgeous view of this waterfront city when skies are clear and the sun is shining.

But on a recent beautiful day, many in the crowd on the observation level of the Space Needle -- one of Seattle's most popular tourist attractions -- ignored the view of blue skies and puffy clouds over Elliott Bay.

Instead, they were mesmerized by virtual depictions of views and peeks into other Seattle tourist attractions that appeared on walls, screens and videos. The new high-tech experience at the Space Needle includes a virtual reality video that seems to take visitors all over Seattle to check out other tourist sites, while they ignore the real view that brought them there.

Anan Bishara, who was visiting from New York for his first visit to Seattle, jokingly said after a virtual look at the Pike Place Market that maybe he wouldn't even need to stop by Seattle's No. 1 tourist destination to see the real thing.

The fun begins before stepping on the elevator to the top of the Space Needle, a 605-foot (184-meter) spire built for the 1962 World's Fair. After downloading the new Space Needle app onto mobile phones, visitors can stop at "space spots" and take "augmented reality" pictures that bring the needle -- and the clouds -- into their photos.

Upstairs, after watching the real city flash by as they ride up the glass-clad elevator, the next distraction is a giant photo wall populated with historic pictures -- think Elvis Presley at the Space Needle -- as well as photos taken by regular visitors to Seattle.

Tourists are then invited to find their home on a map on the photo wall and check in virtually. Many visitors take their own picture in front of the map. And some of them do this before they step outside on the observation deck to take a picture of Seattle for real.

It's time to start walking toward the view -- the real view -- but, wait, another new attraction catches their attention. And this one is seriously cool.

Using Microsoft's 3D Photosynth technology in its only location outside of the Internet, visitors to the Space Needle can make a quick visit to the Seattle Aquarium (for a view from inside a tank) or drop by the soccer stadium to watch a game from the sidelines as a goal is made.

Maybe you'd prefer a 360-degree tour of the view from outside the Space Needle? No need to step outside; just use the virtual reality kiosk to get a better view, no matter the weather.

When they do finally make it outside, they don't have to pull out their cell phones for a selfie, because the Space Needle has them covered with "sky-high selfies" -- which, like all the high-tech treats here, are free. But most people seem to want to take their own selfies -- even though they may not be shot from the perfect vantage point. When they finally make it outside, the observation deck with its stunning views of Seattle remains the main attraction at the Space Needle.

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If You Go...

SPACE NEEDLE: 400 Broad St., Seattle; http://www.spaceneedle.com or 206-905-2100. Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Sunday 9:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Adults, $19-$26, seniors, $17 to $26, youth 4-12, $12-$16.


Updated : 2021-05-07 18:43 GMT+08:00