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Friday, Dec 09, 2022

HKUST expands into virtual reality as project marks first-ever twin metaverse campus

HKUST expands into virtual reality as project marks first-ever twin metaverse campus

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology will launch a metaverse project in the upcoming school year that will allow students across its Clear Water Bay and Guangzhou campuses to share facilities, lessons and even sit through opening ceremonies together.
The university said the project will be the world's first twin metaverse campus.

"The virtual world will mix and coexist with the physical one," said Pan Hui, computational media and arts professor at HKUST's Guangzhou campus.

By donning virtual-reality glasses and holding hand controls, students will be able to wander around the metaverse campus. They may even stumble upon recognizable spots in the virtual campus, namely a red sundial sculpture that is identical to the ones at the entrances of the physical campuses.

Fully virtual lectures will be held as well as hybrid ones in which some of the students attend in person while the rest join via the metaverse classroom.

"Instead of only showing names on a screen, like in Zoom, students in Guangzhou will be able to feel like they are sitting next to their Hong Kong classmates." Hui said. The extended-reality classrooms in Guangzhou will also be equipped with motion capture technology, LED walls and robot arms to further enhance the learning experience.

Yang Wang, the university's vice president of institutional advancement and leader of the MetaHKUST project, said: "The layout of the metaverse campus is like a cartoon in which visitors will be able to differentiate between the virtual and the real world."

The funding for this project will be generous, Wang noted, adding: "We don't want to do it in a cheap way."
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