The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has announced plans to launch digital replicas of the institution’s two campuses via a metaverse platform.
According to a press release, the MetaHKUST platform will launch in September. It will be the world’s first of its kind, using extended reality (XR) technology to provide an immersive study experience that will connect student and research activities across geographical locations.
MetaHKUST is a long-term plan
HKUST has two campuses, one in Hong Kong and one in Guangzhou, China’s southernmost city. Due to COVID-19, travel between China and Hong Kong is severely restricted. MetaHKUST will solve this problem by allowing students to visit both campuses virtually.
The project is divided into two stages. HKUST intends to build physical infrastructure in the first phase. The university will set up augmented reality classrooms, sensors, cameras, and visualization tools. In addition, university community members will participate in crowdsourced scanning of physical campuses to provide images for the virtual twins.
Once the ecosystem is established, it will be open to members of the school to generate content. These include avatars, NFTs, tokens, or virtual art that may also be viewed on the physical campus with augmented reality (AR) technology.
The university will also use the platform to exchange information and administrative procedures. This will enable blockchain-backed diplomas and transcripts to be awarded as NFTs and events to be held on the metaverse platform.
Prof. Wang Yang, HKUST Vice President for Institutional Advancement and project leader, and Prof. Pan Hui, Chair Professor of Computational Media and Arts at HKUST, are leading the project.
Prof. Yang remarked said,
“The online-offline interaction will not only facilitate a genuine integration of the two campuses under the framework of ‘Unified HKUST, Complimentary Campuses,’ but will also help realize the potential of a metaverse in education,”
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s metaverse campus is the latest addition to this growing ecosystem. We can likely expect more universities across the globe to follow suit in the near future.
Universities across the globe are embracing Web3 technologies. Recently, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced its latest online program called “Business in the Metaverse Economy”. Similarly, the University of Tokyo announced its plans to offer metaverse study programmes.
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