ASUniverse will offer immersive campus experiences in the metaverse

ASUniverse will offer immersive campus experiences in the metaverse

November 18, 2022

The campus of the future is here.

Students at The future of learning are building a virtual replica – also known as a digital twin – of Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, with plans to expand in the near future. They call it the ASUniverse and design it to connect other students in the metaverse.

The teams of Learning Futures, which is part of ASU Enterprise Technologyfocus on exploring and designing immersive learning experiences in three to five years.

The student-led collaborative effort aims to blur the lines between the physical and digital environment by allowing students to participate in campus tours, events and classes in an immersive experience from anywhere with access to internet.

“It’s part of this human evolution that’s happening where we integrate with our technology,” said Jesse Murdock, graduate architecture student and digital twin specialist at Learning Futures. “Our technology is just an extension of ourselves that allows us to connect on a level that brings the world together.”

The ASUniverse is a digital twin – an evolving virtual representation of the physical environment influenced by data collected on campus. Soon, Sun Devils will be able to explore breathtaking architecture, state-of-the-art classrooms, and even the Southwestern landscape from anywhere in a real-time 3D experience.

“Digital twins and online worlds like Roblox, Minecraft and Meta Horizons are changing the way we live, work and play online,” said Dan Munnerley, Executive Director of Learning Futures. “This paradigm shift to real-time 3D is a great opportunity for education. Our students already inhabit these worlds, so who better to design the online campus of the future than our learners? »

Video of Welcome to the ASUniverse

Video by Alisha Mendez

“This digital space will allow you to do and see all things in the physical world – and more,” said Toby Kidd, director of studios at Learning Futures. “Like the ability to travel to places you wouldn’t normally be able to, whether due to limited access or limited funding.”

A recent development project focused on bringing Zoom to the ASUniverse. This was inspired by the launch of the Zoom Innovation Lab at ASU in October.

Using avatars, virtual guests will be able to navigate the ASUniverse and, at designated virtual Zoom kiosks, connect via live Zoom meetings with real people such as professors, teaching assistants and other student services staff. The Zoom Room acts as a window to the physical world for those in the ASUniverse, allowing students to connect their avatars with real people in the metaverse.

This project is an innovative example of bringing together the physical and virtual worlds.

“There’s a really strong sense of community here on campus,” Kidd said. “And if you’re a distance learner, the ability for you to connect on campus through a virtual experience is a really great opportunity.”

Plus, the ASUniverse can adapt and change in real time – clouds in the sky, time of day, and even the number of people in the area – all with the click of a mouse. . Developer tools like Unreal and Unity are used to make this possible.

We can use a digital twin to do shadow studies and decide where we should put our solar panels for new buildings, for example,” Murdock said. “We can start to answer how we can create more sustainable systems based on what is already hise. »

Although the ASUniverse is not yet open, it is only the beginning. In the meantime, ASU students will continue to collect data and take big steps to create a digital future that unites the physical and virtual worlds to create greater access to learning around the world.

“We don’t know what the world will look like in three to five years, but you set a goal and work towards it,” Kidd said. “The potential of virtual spaces is limitless.”

Written by Kevin Pirehpour

Top photo: Teams at Learning Futures, part of ASU Enterprise Technology, are focused on exploring and designing immersive learning experiences, which aim to blur the lines between the physical and digital environment by allowing remote students to participate in campus tours, events and classes. . picture by Kevin Pirehpour

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