APU's XR Studio Unveils Advanced Immersive Tech Ecosystem | Asia Pacific University (APU)

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APU's XR Studio Unveils Advanced Immersive Tech Ecosystem

The Extended Education Experience Station (EDEX) at APU's XR Studio, equipped with Mixed Reality smart glasses, serves as an Extended Reality (ER) or Spatial Computing laboratory designed for shared and collaborative educational experiences that excite, inspire, and stimulate.

In the ever-evolving field of education, Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) is at the forefront with its cutting-edge XR Studio, a transformative hub that is redefining the landscape of immersive technologies in Malaysia and beyond.

Prof Vinesh (left) spearheaded the establishment of high-tech facilities at the XR Studio in APU. The VR cycling training set (above) is one of those facilities.

Under the visionary leadership of APU's chief innovation and enterprise officer Prof Dr Vinesh Thiruchelvam, this advanced facility represents a significant investment of RM2.25mil, establishing APU as a trailblazer in immersive technology education within Malaysia and beyond.

Pioneering in spatial computing facilities dedicated to Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies, this initiative is not only a first in Malaysia but also sets a new standard for immersive technology education in higher learning institutions.

XR, which is the acronym for Extended Reality, is an umbrella term that covers all technologies of AR, VR, and MR. The establishment of the XR Studio underscores APU's dedication to developing talents for the VR, AR, and MR ecosystem. The design of the XR Studio is considered the first of its kind outside the USA.

Collaborating with Ministry XR, a specialist in spatial computing interfaces, APU has co-developed a pioneering VR and AR education blueprint. This collaboration ensures that students have access to new wave hardware and software, enabling them to gain practical experience with immersive technologies.

In its commitment to staying ahead of technological advancements, the XR Studio recently invested an additional RM150,000 in upgrading hardware facilities. This investment is directed towards acquiring new and trendy XR hardware, facilitating innovative project developments and ensuring students have access to the latest tools in the XR space.

(From left) Prof Vinesh, Dr Siti Azreena and Virtual Reality engineer Imran Mahalil are seen trying on the Mixed Reality robotic arm in the XR Studio.

According to APU's School of Computing (SoC) creative interactive technology (CIT) lecturer Dr Siti Azreena Mubin, the XR Studio houses advanced facilities such as a 360-degree volumetric video capture zone, the Extended Education Experience Station (EDEX), high-spec gaming workstations, and MR smart glasses. These resources provide students with a comprehensive platform to explore and innovate within the XR domain.

Dr Siti Azreena also highlights ongoing research initiatives within the XR Studio, including the VR cycling training set and the XR Studio chatbot powered by GPT-3.5 API.

The XR Aviators utilise the equipment in the XR Studio, including the Chatbot powered by the GPT-3.5 API.

“The VR cycling training set, a research project funded by APU's internal grant (RDIG), aims to enhance cycling training effectiveness by integrating wind, uphill climb, and titling slope effects into one cohesive product,” Dr Siti Azreena shared, highlighting the studio’s commitment to innovative research.

“As for the chatbot created using the GPT-3.5 API, its development is intended to assist in demonstrating and introducing XR Studio to visitors. The chatbot appears as an avatar, facilitates two-way communication via a microphone, and is embedded in the EDEX PC for display on the HoloLens glass," Dr Siti Azreena explained.

Moreover, APU's strategic partnership with the VR/AR Association (VRARA) further enhances its global connectivity within the XR community.

Prof Vinesh serves as VRARA's Malaysian chapter president, while Dr Siti Azreena acts as its secretary, providing students and staff with invaluable networking opportunities and access to industry insights.

Beyond academic excellence, APU's XR Studio plays a pivotal role in nurturing interdisciplinary collaboration. By encouraging students and academic staff from diverse disciplines to leverage their expertise within the XR ecosystem, APU fosters innovative solutions with real-world applications.

The integration of Meta Quest 3, a cutting-edge XR hardware introduced by Meta in October 2023, further enriches the XR Studio's capabilities. This device enables immersive experiences in Mixed Reality (MR), empowering students to explore new frontiers in spatial computing.

APU's commitment to digital transformation and innovation extends beyond the campus, strengthening its position as Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)'s Premier Digital Tech Institution (PDTI). Through curriculum integration, research and development, industry partnerships, talent development, community outreach, and XR project showcases, APU is driving impactful change in Malaysia's digital landscape.

One of the hallmarks of APU's XR Studio is its dedication to ensuring high employability for its graduates. APU has established extensive partnerships with leading XR companies, startups, and industry organisations, fostering collaboration, innovation, and technology transfer within the XR ecosystem.

The XR Studio serves as a hub of creativity and innovation within the APU community. It benefits various groups, including schools and researchers, non-technical students, industry partners, professionals, and government agencies. By providing access to advanced XR technologies, APU empowers its stakeholders to explore new possibilities and drive meaningful advancements in their respective fields.

Commenting on his brainchild, Prof Vinesh remarked, "APU's XR Studio is not just a facility but a catalyst for transformative education.

“By setting new benchmarks in experiential learning, interdisciplinary collaboration, and industry integration, we are empowering students to thrive in the dynamic landscape of immersive technologies.

“Our goal is to inspire innovation, nurture talent, and shape future leaders who will drive impactful change in the digital economy."

Join the APU team at XR Studio and embark on a journey into the future of education, where innovation meets imagination, and technology transforms learning. You can read this article at StarPicks.