HK university to launch world’s first virtual campus in metaverse
Students of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) are poised to take classes and interact with their peers in a virtual campus after the university announced its plan to build the world’s first virtual campuses in the metaverse.
Announcing the plan at a news conference on Thursday, Pan Hui, director of the Centre for Metaverse and Computational Creativity (MC2) at HKUST, said that in the project’s initial stage, physical infrastructure such as extended-reality classrooms, sensors, cameras, and visualisation tools will be installed.
Once completed, the university’s students, from both the main campuses in Hong Kong and Guangzhou will be among the world’s first to receive their diplomas and transcripts in the form of blockchain-secured digital documents, or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — popular and trendy cryptographic assets in the form of digital files such as photos, videos, and artworks.
Hui said that all university members will be invited to scan the physical campuses and upload photos to the cloud, helping provide the images needed to build the virtual campuses.
After the primary ecosystem is set up, one can generate content such as avatars, NFTs, tokens, or virtual artworks for the virtual world, which may also be viewed or used in the physical campuses with augmented reality technology.
The exchange of information and administrative procedures will become more convenient, Hui said, adding that blockchain-secured diplomas or transcripts may be awarded in NFTs, while events like the Open Day or graduation can be held online or onsite at the same time.
The opening ceremony of the Guangzhou campus will be a trial run. According to Hui, the entire Guangzhou (GZ) campus will open its doors to students on September 1, and an opening ceremony will take place in the metaverse at the same time. About 250 guests will be invited to join the virtual ceremony with their pre-designed avatars.
In addition, the university will complete the construction of the first mixed-reality classroom with 223 square metres on the HKUST(GZ) campus before September 1 for the HKUST(GZ) opening.
Wang Yang, HKUST’s vice president for institutional advancement and the leader of the MetaHKUST project, said a similar classroom will soon be constructed on the Hong Kong campus, after which faculty and students of the two campuses can attend the same lecture simultaneously in two parallel physical spaces.
Wang said the platform will not just provide students with an immersive study experience but will serve as a holistic platform for all students, faculty, and alumni to create, innovate and connect across campuses.
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