A marriage between virtual reality and college tours may be closer than you think.
The virtual reality (VR) startup YouVisit was built by three international college graduates who wanted to design solutions that ease the travel burden of touring college campuses.
Since 2009, YouVisit has been designing virtual university tours using 360-degree panoramic photography. It's akin to Google's Street View tours of the world's roads. More than 1,000 institutions have given the VR firm access to their campuses.
Over the past year, YouVisit has been tinkering with the Oculus Rift virtual reality platform, which Facebook recently bought for $2 billion. The team has been impressed with the potential.
"We've built a platform that enables anyone with an Oculus device to come to our tours and connect to it and view these tours in virtual reality spaces," YouVisit co-founder Taher Baderkhan told TechCrunch.
Both university officials and high school students shopping for the right college experience already have test driven the VR sample the team has been developing. In addition to allowing viewers to gaze around a college locale in virtual reality, the tours have a guide, just like their online counterpart.
The demo proved so successful that universities began buying their own Oculus development kits, TechCrunch reports. A French university, the Audencia Nantes School of Management, has incorporated the virtual reality tours into its promotional repertoire.
Oculus Rift itself is still under development. A commercial release for the platform could come in 2015, according to Business Insider. Until then, the technology can only be experienced at trade shows or through development kits purchased by programmers keen on pioneering new ideas for the platform.