CLEMSON — Prospective students and their parents can now tour Clemson University’s campus with an iPhone as their guide.

A new application developed by students as a Creative Inquiry project offers an interactive way to learn more about buildings and landmarks on Clemson’s campus, watch video clips and get directions through GPS navigation. The application is available at the Class of 1944 Visitor’s Center on Apple iTouch devices that visitors can check out. It will be available soon for free download on Apple’s iTunes.

The application is meant to enhance visitors’ experiences rather than replacing the normal guided tours, said Visitor’s Center Director Helen Adams. It also can be used on days when tours are not scheduled or when tours are fully booked.

“With the ability to show video clips, such as the Tigers running down the hill or students working out at Fike, it allows us to bring to visitors little snippets of what campus life is really like, no matter what time of year they visit,” Adams said.

The Visitor’s Center gives tours to more than 25,000 campus visitors each year, most of them in the spring and summer. With so many people coming to campus having a new tool to help them find their way around and get more information about campus will be very valuable, Adams said.

Once the application is available for download, people can “tour” campus without ever leaving their homes, said Adams.

The application was developed by students in Clemson’s School of Computing and members of the Tour Guide Association. Information, video and images were developed with the help of the student tour guides. The software was developed by computer science graduate student Kyungsoo Im, and the information from the Visitor’s Center was entered into the application by undergraduates in computer science.

“This was a great way to give our students hands-on experience in developing an application for hand-held devices, a rapidly growing industry,” said computer science professor Roy Pargas, who advised the Creative Inquiry team. “It also helped fill a need at the university by providing Clemson with another way to reach out to prospective students and showcase what the university has to offer.”

Creative Inquiry is a unique Clemson program that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to take on research or projects under the guidance of faculty members.

Student tour guide Charene Davis, a senior marketing major from Greenville, said the project was a good experience for her on many levels.

“I think the most beneficial part of this experience was realizing and seeing how much behind-the-scenes effort went into making a project like this happen,” Davis said. “I met the production staff and saw how much time it took to get every shot just right and coordinate each sequence to make it look its best. Plus, just knowing that I'm helping to make a resource that future students will utilize in choosing Clemson University as their college is a pretty amazing and humbling feeling that I can talk about with my future employers and show to my peers.”

Davis appears in the application as one of the “virtual” tour guides and helped record voice-overs.

“In the spirit of Creative Inquiry, the development of this application was truly multidisciplinary,” Pargas said. 

Computer science major Gina Guererro, a junior from Columbia, took all the information, videos and images from the Visitor’s Center and entered them into the software. She said she believes the project will give her a leg up when she starts searching for jobs in software development.

“It helped introduce me to a new language, Xcode, which is used to develop apps for the iPhone,” she said. Guererro also said she learned a lot about working as part of a team, communicating with people from different fields and meeting deadlines.

Now that the application is in place, Pargas said the next step will be to translate it to work on other hand-held devices, such as the Apple iPad and Motorola’s Droid.


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