Zoom Innovation Lab 1yr year later

In 2023, Arizona State University’s (ASU) community logged over 40 million minutes on Zoom – with sessions taking place in classes, meetings, and webinars.

The university is a trusted collaborator with Zoom Video Communications, Inc., adopting the video conferencing tool for enterprise use back in 2019. Fast-forward to 2022, and ASU and Zoom announced a first-of-its-kind strategic partnership. The goal is to combine resources available across ASU—including the university’s expertise, research, networks, and learning assets—with Zoom’s technology and talent to create solutions that better connect society.

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

Significant progress has been made today. We checked back in with the teams to explore the evolution of their work.

Collaborating to build a metaverse

The team behind ASU Next Lab is 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, which is available on desktop. New functions for using Zoom in the metaverse are 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 of Next Lab.

This allows a more robust web platform that utilizes 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 Computer Science senior, leads the metaverse project.

Learning new technology, troubleshooting issues and team management are just some of the skills Huggins has gained while 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 backend engineers making a couple of text boxes and buttons,” said Huggins.

Fueling innovation in healthcare and higher education

The Luminosity Lab at Arizona State University, 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 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 the hospital rooms, doctors could 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 timeframe,” 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 the 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,” said Amoako-Agyei. “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 for developing new tools.

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

In addition to key projects underway, the Lab offers a physical space on the first floor of the Creativity Commons in the heart of ASU’s Tempe campus. Students can use the lab’s suite of Zoom-enabled tools, including a multi-camera Zoom theater. 

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