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Visual search engine promises photo-realistic malls

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A "visual search destination" which promises to offer users the chance to surf in a safe, family friendly environment with sunny shopping streets, malls and plazas is set to launch this week.

The Gemsta.com website uses Flash animation and complex 3D CAD-style modelling to create a virtual world where consumers can travel seamlessly through different shopping areas that are home to 30 different categories of products and stores. All brands are categorised and grouped according to products.

"In the era of iPlayer, Xbox and Playstation, why not have a 3D multimedia homepage that is capable of delivering great content in a way that is intuitive for users and creates a real experience," says Richard Laing, Gemsta's chief executive. "We believe that the internet should be a safe, fast, exciting and visually pleasing experience. We want to keep it real, accessible, useful and credible, but above all it needs to be fun for users of all ages."

"Using a variety of software, our team of architects, landscapers, interior designers and programmers, has taken the geography of real islands and added swathes of creativity and huge amounts of detail to take Gemsta.com from a wired framework to a photo-real world — possibly the largest ever computer generated model made available online," continues Laing. "We have light reflections on rippling water and the sound of rustling palm trees to bring the site to life. We've even made sure that rays of sunlight and shadows are in the right place."

"Gemsta.com is based on a world that has a sense of freedom - a place with no crime, no jams and no pressures, in essence, a place where users can enjoy visiting again and again."

The virtual world's shopping island offers 50 individually designed shopping malls and plazas which house some 500 brands. Each has a shop front featuring its logo, and a click here will take the shopper to the brand's conventional website. Users 'walk' through the malls and plazas, which cover 750 virtual acres, visiting shops along the way. The company maintains that "in the real world shopping is a leisure activity. People like to browse and discover things they weren't expecting. Gemsta.com recreates this feeling without having to battle with the crowds."



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