On my first class day of freshman year, I eagerly grabbed my backpack and headed to DeBartolo Hall. Looking at my campus map, I navigated my way to the DeBartolo building I had circled in red, but the walk started to feel a lot longer than it had when practiced my schedule a few days prior! The building was beautiful on the inside, but why did it look so different than I remembered? Confused, I swallowed my pride and asked for help. Imagine my surprise when I was told that I was at the wrong DeBartolo. With both a DeBartolo Hall and a Debartolo Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame’s campus seemed impossible to figure out!
Having spent a few years here, it’s easy to forget how confusing campus once seemed. Luckily, the Academic Technologies department hasn’t forgotten. At Freshman Orientation this year, they debuted a virtual tour, allowing users to navigate their way across campus simply by using their hands and the Leap Motion device.
Waleed Johnson developed this virtual tour by linking the Leap Motion device with Google Maps and Maps.nd.edu. Leap Motion is able to track the natural movement of the hand, providing 8 cubic feet of three dimensional, interactive space. Take a look at the technology in action:
As Waleed demonstrates, there are two options for navigation. The street view map combines Leap Motion technology with Google Maps street view. This allows users to look at a three dimensional version of campus, navigating as if they are actually walking across the quad. The second is a satellite view, linking Leap Motion to maps.nd.edu. While not as realistic, this option has labels for campus buildings. When the user hovers over a label, information about that building opens up. The virtual tour provides visitors and new students with an interactive experience in learning their way around Notre Dame’s campus.