2012 Conference

Rethinking the Virtual Tour: An Immersive Experience that’s More Than A Map

Rethinking the Virtual Tour: An Immersive Experience that’s More Than A Map
John-Paul Takats, Web Analyst, Rochester Institute of Technology

RIT Virtual Tour WebsiteIn Rethinking the Virtual Tour, John-Paul Takats, a Web Analyst with Rochester Institute of Technology Undergraduate Admissions, led us through the development of their virtual tour. Combining video captured using Google’s tricycle mounted street tricycle and audio from student ambassadors, RIT built out an open-source, immersive site that combined a real-world tour with embedded information layers to create a media-rich immersive experience.

About the Project

  • The primary images were based almost exclusively on Street View content. For the future, this will become an issue as the face of campus changes, and the tour will need to be able to be adaptable to meet those changes.
  • Student Ambassadors recorded their tour materials to match the Google Street View content. Recordings were uploaded to SoundCloud and then paired with the street view. Notes and actions were added to the SoundCloud file using its annotation service.
  • Popcorn.js was used to build out the layered site design
  • Foursquare API was integrated to upload nearby venues to the tour.
  • Related videos and Foursquare venues are listed in side menus. Opening elements opens a light box that pauses the playing of the virtual tour until it is closed.
  • Professionally created videos were accompanied with student produced video content. Student videos were recorded using iPod touches and produced with  iMovie.
  • The admissions office at RIT built a “choose your own adventure” tour for topical tour options. (housing, colleges, etc)
  • RIT is moving now to making the campus map available in a location-aware web browser for mobile devices.

Take the Tour

The tour is currently in Beta and can be viewed here:

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By Jeff Stevens

Deep in north-central Florida, Jeff Stevens leads a dual life. By day, he’s responsible for content strategy, usability, accessibility, SEO, and analytics and metrics for the University of Florida's academic Health Center. By night, he’s Creative Director of Union Design & Photo, a freelance design agency that has worked withover two hundred clients. In between, he dons a cape and plays superhero with his kids and cats. And when he dreams, he’s a singing park ranger somewhere out west.

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