TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Arizona State University is using augmented reality to hold its fall graduation ceremony during the pandemic. Graduates, friends, and family can download a free app, which started streaming the commencement ceremony on Monday morning.
Through the screen of an Android or Apple device, users can place a virtual podium wherever they happen to be. There, they can watch and listen to featured speakers President Michael Crow and Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle. Users can also watch the ceremonies online.
So they welcomed the opportunity to use robots and walk virtually, navigating the graduation ceremony from their keyboard.
The app design was lead by Dr. Robert LiKamWa, who researches augmented reality at ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
"On multiple fronts, it was important," said LiKamWa. "We did want to give a gift, really, a special offering to this graduating class that's worked so hard through this pandemic."
Special cameras and green screens were used to create the augmented reality effect.
Most of the work on the app was completed by students at ASU, who worked on a tight two-month deadline to finish the project. "Personally, I feel like I just learned a lot more about teamwork and being in constant communication with the team," said ASU PhD student Aashiq Shaikh.
Though, fitting with the theme of this year's fall graduation, most of that work had to be done remotely.
"It was an interesting learning experience," Shaikh said.