New technology allows virtual reality college tours

The Main Building on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. (Eric Janzen/KXAN)
The Main Building on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. (Eric Janzen/KXAN)

NEW YORK (CNN) – Want to visit the college of your dreams to find out if you like it? Well, you don’t have to get on a plane or even drive there. You can take a tour and go from one Ivy League school to another in seconds.

A college tour, without having to step outside, that’s the benefit of the Oculus Rift. It’s a virtual reality headset that made headlines after Facebook bought it for $2 billion earlier this year. Now a company called YouVisit is using it for virtual college tours.

“We have markers in these locations. You have a yellow marker to your left. So if you make it right in front you, that will transfer you to your next location,” said Taher Baderkhan, the CTO of YouVisit.

It tracks your eye movements. You look down to get a gallery of places you can visit, anytime you want to go somewhere, you just look at it and you are transported. Its virtual reality aimed at making college more of a reality.

“Our mission from the day we started the company is making a campus visit more attainable to students,” said Baderkhan.

Oculus isn’t widely available yet, and even when it is, most people won’t have a $350 headset at home, but you could start seeing these devices at college fairs and recruitment events.

“We’re not replacing the actual visit, we’re making kids more excited about the actual visit,” said Baderkhan

If you’re not an athlete, this might be the closest you’re going to come to the football field.  We tested it out with some professional critics. Our intern goes to syracuse:

“This is the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University and it actually feels like I’m back in the student section,” said Jared Mandel.

“While this looks like a cool technology, the best way to experience a school and to know if this is the place you want to study is to actually go and visit and meet the people, not just look at an empty dining hall in virtual reality,” said former Yale tour guide Jordan Malter.

It does enable you to fly across the country, from the Ivy Leagues to the Big Ten in the blink of an eye. Like any developing technology, it’s a work in progress.

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