Discipline: Computer Sciences and Information Management
Subcategory: Computer Science & Information Systems
Phillip Devreaux - Bowie State University
University campus tours can give people feelings of awe and eagerness when they explore a university for the first time. University campus tours also highlight key aspects of campus life. But, while campus tours are exciting, they do require a person’s physical presence. As an alternative to a person’s required physical presence, this proposed platform offers a way for visitors to experience the entire campus virtually. Our virtual campus utilizes Oculus Rift to fully immerse the user into a replica of our real-life college campus. This project’s goal is to use technology to expand the horizons of university tours and attract students, parents, faculty, staff, and others to visit and attend our university.
Our hypothesis is that the “sense of presence” provided by the immersive virtual reality environment with oculus rift will allow running simulations and conducting virtual tours for campus safety and emergency response. The software we used to create this project includes Unity 3d, 3Ds Max, and Google Sketchup. The method for developing the immersive virtual reality environment involves the following: Unity 3d was used to create a three-dimensional terrain which is tailored to replicate the real-life terrain of our campus. The actual campus map was placed on a three-dimensional plane. Three-dimensional roads and trees were placed corresponding to the real-life roads and trees depicted on the map. Next, we dove into two other software’s (3Ds Max and Google Sketchup) which we used to accurately detail the buildings for our virtual campus. Within 3Ds Max, we were able to place textured images of the actual real-life buildings onto the three-dimensional models. Within Google Sketchup, we were able to add even more detail to the buildings which resulted in hyper realistic building models. After our campus was fully constructed with buildings and trees, virtual avatars and wind effects were added to the terrain to add realism and life to the virtual environment. The last element added to the environment was the Oculus Rift. With Oculus Rift, the user can be fully immersed in the environment with the ability to look in every direction at the three-dimensional world surrounding them. The results of this project led to the successful completion of the virtual campus environment with all the functionalities including the cloud networking and oculus rift HMD use. The proposed application has been tested and the results have been very promising. We have also created a web version of the virtual tour which can be accessed by anyone on the internet. The user can navigate in the web version of virtual tour environment using keyboard and mouse for navigation.
In conclusion, the proposed virtual campus tours can be helpful to understand the campus environment and better know about the university campus leaving the users no stress of walking or coming to campus just to view the campus. This is a platform for many other possibilities as well. Future work includes the following: GPS campus navigation, building tours, evacuation drills, and online classrooms.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): The authors would like to thank the National Science Foundation for supporting the project. This work is funded by grant HRD-1238784.
Faculty Advisor: Sharad Sharma,