Virtual tour gives viewers 3-D look at Boca’s train museum

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It can be held in your hand, but it contains technology capable of capturing eight decades of history.

The 12-by-6-inch black box is a high-tech 3-D camera that Pompano Beach startup AccuTour used to create a virtual tour of the Boca Express Train Museum at 747 S. Dixie Highway.

“For me as a curator, this is very valuable documentation of a rare historical resource that no amount of still photography or regular video can document,” said Susan Gillis, curator for the Boca Raton Historical Society and Museum.

The society has not decided exactly what it will do with the footage, but it’s likely to fit it into one of the educational programs, said Mary Csar, executive director of the society.

AccuTour used $7,000 in the latest technology to capture the images of the train depot. The 3-D camera, a seemingly ordinary 12-by-6 inch black box with a handle, spun on its axis and used about nine lenses to scan the roughly 4,800 square feet of museum and rail cars.

The footage was then uploaded to a program that stitched the images together on an iPad and spit out a raw data file, which AccuTour then polished. The result, the company’s vice president, Quinton Winter, said, is like Google street maps for the inside of places.

Users can take self-guided virtual tours of the facilities or click a play button to be guided through it. The final product, which was available in a matter of hours, can be viewed on all platforms from phones to tablets to desktop computers.

“We’ve kind of perfected the art of it,” Winter said.

AccuTour does similar projects for businesses across the tri-county area. The Boca project would normally cost just shy of $750, but AccuTour did it for free.

“We think it’s really important for the preservation of historical sites,” the company’s president, Eduardo Acevedo, said.

In 2014, Avirom & Associates did a 3-D survey of the train museum, which provided measurements that could be used if the society were to ever do a redesign, Csar said.

This time is different, Csar said, because the 3-D footage will give viewers a look inside the 1930 FEC Railway passenger station and two restored 1947 streamlined rail cars.

“It’s a great teaching tool,” Csar said. “It’s really a great thing to have if for nothing else to document the interiors.”