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Brutus guides virtual tour around Ohio State’s campus in new app

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

A virtual Brutus Buckeye might soon be able to save visitors the trouble of carrying around a campus map.
Ohio State’s mascot will come alive to guide people on a virtual tour of campus as part of the Find Brutus Augmented Virtual Tour Guide Application.
This application, brainchild of College of Education Ph.D. student Brad Henry, is still a working prototype.
“It won’t be released right away because it is currently still in development. I will be doing a small pilot test in the fall,” Henry said.
The Find Brutus Augmented Virtual Tour Guide Application uses the idea of augmented reality, a concept that has always piqued Henry’s interest.
“We’re enhancing and mixing the technological with the present environment,” Henry said.
Henry sponsored a group of four students from the computer science and engineering senior capstone project during Spring Semester. The students have assembled the prototype together outside of the capstone class – Mark Mathis and Jacob Peddicord focus on the mobile application components, and Michael Jodon and Carl Shotwell focus on the web application. After the semester, the application will return to Henry, who plans to finalize the application before releasing it to the public on the Android market.
The prototype tour begins at William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library and is currently programmed to recognize areas around the Oval. When the application is opened, the lens of a mobile device shows the user’s surroundings through the device’s camera. The application will eventually recognize key campus areas programmed into the tour, with bubbles of information hovering in front of chosen tour destinations. The user can click on these blurbs and expand the text to find out more information about the location. After the tour, the application asks users to “find Brutus” using the device’s camera, and when the application recognizes the area Brutus is “hiding,” a 3D Brutus appears on the screen. The application will then quiz the user over the information that has been covered so far.
“It’s something that you use in addition to the tour or a little game on the side or if you are just walking around looking at things, you’ll find Brutus,” Peddicord said.
Shotwell, who helped develop the web application for Find Brutus, works on the OSU Mobile Application for the university. Shotwell said the thought of integrating the Find Brutus application into the OSU Mobile Application has been considered.
“It’s definitely something they are looking at doing,” Shotwell said. “(The) iPhone version right now has the Buckeye Stroll app, which is similar to this (Find Brutus), but it doesn’t have the augmented capability.”
The technologies this application uses are similar to that of Google glasses, a head-mounted wearable computer. One of Henry’s long-term goals is that this technology can be used in training devices in the medical field.
“I have had recent conversations with the folks from the OSU Medical Center and from some of the libraries, so they are also interested in leveraging the framework,” Henry said. “Find Brutus is going to take on a much bigger life than just this particular project.”

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