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A look at ASU’s Zoom Innovation Lab, 1 year later

Two ASU students using a computer at the Zoom Innovation Lab.

The Zoom Innovation Lab at ASU combines resources available across the ASU Public Enterprise — including the university’s expertise, research, networks and learning assets — with Zoom’s technology and talent to create solutions that better connect society. Photo courtesy University Technology Office

February 13, 2024

Arizona State University has been a trusted collaborator of Zoom Video Communications Inc. since 2019, when it adopted the video conferencing tool for enterprise use. Since then, the collaboration has flourished.

In the past year alone, the Sun Devil community logged over 40 million minutes on Zoom — with sessions taking place in classes, meetings and webinars — and since 2022, the Zoom Innovation Lab at ASU has been creating solutions and helping students stay connected, thus improving access to world-class learning opportunities, telehealth and more.

The lab, which represents a first-of-its-kind strategic partnership, combines the resources available across ASU — including the university’s expertise, research, networks and learning assets — with Zoom’s technology and talent.

Last year, the Zoom Innovation Lab at ASU celebrated its first year of operation. At launch, two projects were already underway, including the development of a digital twin by ASU Enterprise Technology and a telehealth app from The Luminosity Lab. 

Today, significant progress has been made. ASU News checked back in with the teams to explore the evolution of their work.

Collaborating to build a metaverse

The team behind ASU Next Lab are working to develop the ASUniverse, a digital twin, or virtual representation, of a real-world physical system that uses real-time 3D modeling to simulate an adaptive virtual campus environment. Today, over 200 campus buildings are represented in the digital twin, available on desktop, with new functions for using Zoom in the metaverse underway.

Despite some technical challenges over the past year, ASU students have developed a stand-alone application that builds on an initial prototype and brings Zoom functionality into game environments.

“The students have been great in understanding problems, sending error logs and working directly with Zoom developers to create an innovative solution that pushes the limits of Zoom technology,” said Toby Vaughn Kidd, studio director for Next Lab.

This allows a more robust web platform that utilizes a Zoom Video software-development kit to support powerful session-based connections with audio and video capabilities. Think of a Zoom session in the metaverse. Additionally, the application is now compatible with Unity for virtual reality (VR) implementations. 

This year, ASU Next Lab students will work to recreate the digital twin, which is currently available on desktop, in a VR space. This allows for new exploration into digital twins as immersive environments. The plan is to have a final, robust solution ready for faculty, student and staff feedback in the coming months.

Aaron Huggins, an ASU senior studying computer science, is the lead on the metaverse project. Learning new technology, troubleshooting issues and team management are just some of the skills that Huggins has gained during his time working on the metaverse project.

“I’ve been able to learn about the different pieces that go into the puzzle of making a project out in the real world — you don’t just have back-end engineers making a couple of text boxes and buttons,” Huggins said.

Fueling innovation in health care and higher education

The Luminosity Lab at ASU, part of Educational Outreach and Student Services, also has a number of projects in the works that maximize Zoom technology for student and societal good.

One of the first projects The Luminosity Lab worked on was designing a telehealth app to aid doctor–patient interaction. By adding video and audio capabilities to the TVs already mounted in hospital rooms, doctors were able to use the Zoom-enabled app to connect with patients and make their rounds virtually.  

The goal of this project was to create a more seamless communication experience. ASU students worked with Zoom developers from November 2022 through June 2023, when they handed off their work to the hospital for implementation. 

“The team (at The Luminosity Lab) took the problem statement from our medical partners and worked closely together with Zoom’s development team over six months or so to develop that solution — the project went from concept to delivery in such a short time frame,” said Tyler Smith, senior director of The Luminosity Lab. 

The "Classroom of the Future" is another project that The Luminosity Lab is launching under the Zoom partnership, with Zoom bringing Apple into the conversation. The project kicked off in May 2023 with a goal of reimagining what the delivery of education and the hybrid classroom experience look like. 

“Since May, our students have designed classroom spaces that are fully equipped with Apple products, and are designing new Zoom interfaces that offer a new education portal that helps streamline the process for teachers to deliver content,” said Jasmine Amoako-Agyei, strategic initiatives coordinator at The Luminosity Lab. “They are looking at the hybrid experience for students who are either in classrooms, online or both.

“What’s really exciting about this project is that it’s designed by students for students. Zoom put them in the driver seat and asked, ‘What would you want to experience in the classroom?' They really challenged us with various questions that engage various stakeholders.”

Partnerships help to fuel innovation

ASU’s unique approach to partnerships ensures that the university is not merely an adopter of technology, but is working with industry leaders — like Zoom — to create the future when it comes to the development of new tools.

Now into its second year, the Zoom Innovation Lab at ASU is poised to uncover meaningful applications of technology — including these examples in telehealth and enhanced learning environments.

In addition to key projects underway, the lab offers a physical space that is located on the first floor of the Creativity Commons in the heart of ASU’s Tempe campus. The lab offers a suite of Zoom-enabled tools, including a multi-camera Zoom theater, for use by students. 

For more information on the Zoom Innovation Lab offerings, visit the website.

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