Penn State University Park Now Has Virtual Mobile Tour

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

A Penn State research group, ChoroPhronesis, located in the Department of Geography, now introduces a new mobile app where anyone can view an interactive virtual tour of public art and class gifts across the University Park campus.

When one opens the app, one enters a virtual Penn State museum containing 3-D models of such campus landmarks like the Obelisk. In the middle of the virtual space, there is an interactive map of the campus pinpointed with areas of “class gifts” (2013 “We Are” structure) or “public works of art.”

With the help of Google Cardboard, a mobile device virtual reality headsets, users can select specific points on the virtual map and view the school gifts’ details as well as 360-degree photos.

The app helps connect past and future Penn State classes, promoting pride and history of the campus, says Alexander Kippel, an associate professor of geography.

“We started brainstorming various topics that might be of interest to the Penn State community,” Klippel said. “One of the ideas we came up with is focusing on the many class gifts, so we then went around campus taking 360-degree images of these structures and landmarks.”

After compiling photos of important landmarks in the campus, members of the team used a Unity game development software to create 360-degree images into the virtual Penn State map. Besides that, the team had to program the app so they collaborated with a programming team leader, Jan Oliver Wallgrün from Germany. Their idea led them to use collaboration tools such as Box and telepresence robots. Through those tools, the programming and coding fell into place through the Unity software.

“I think this app could help integrate the online learning community into the Penn State experience,” Klippel said. “You could also have international students explore Penn State virtually, as well as have alumni use the tool as a homesick quick fix to revisit the good old days on campus.”

For all prospective, past, and present students: virtual mobile tours may be the new thing for colleges and universities to unite, publicize, and spark communities that reach all types of people.

 

Brian MaCOED Writer
Half-South Korean and half-Chinese, who loves pasta and smoothies. He also enjoys playing pickup ball and listening to tropical house music.
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