ASU aims to untether immersive learning with 5G

Solving for real-world challenges at Arizona State University (ASU) involves only traditional forms of higher education but exploring new immersive learning experiences enhanced with 5G.

ASU is already exploring applications for immersive learning experiences in partnership with Dreamscape since 2020, including setting up a virtual reality avatar-driven biology lab experience that’s both campus-based and online (Verizon and Dreamscape have also previously partnered together).  It’s still a tethered setup at this point, but 5G capacity is part of forthcoming plans, said ASU CIO Lev Gonick.

RELATED: Verizon turns up 5G lab at Arizona State University

Another aim of a new expanded technology partnership with Verizon and ASU – including a new 5G lab on campus - is for students to learn how to develop coding software that builds virtual reality environments, according to Maggie Hallbach, Verizon VP Public Sector Business Development and Strategic Sales.

More on the 5G lab at ASU’s Learning Futures Collaboratory, Studios and Emporium here. The primary focus isn’t necessarily to educate students, she noted, but rather to test how effective immersive teaching can be on student outcomes and for students to learn how to innovate in that type of environment.

When you have a facility outfitted with 5G, mobile edge compute (MEC) and Dreamscape’s full immersive reality setting, “you have the ability for students to kind of go wild,” she said. “Once they learn this technique and the skills to actually do application development in that environment, the sky is the limit as to what they can come up with.”

RELATED: Verizon to pair 5G, immersive VR with Dreamscape

And untethered VR experiences is key for ASU as well.

“For us it’s about immersive play in service of engaging students in compelling ways of using the technology,” Gonick said of the Verizon partnership.

He believes ASU is among the first in the nation to develop a 5G lab where a main goal is to untether the immersive experience with 5G and the cloud.

Usually for great experiences, “most of the compute has had to be physically connected to you as you wear your goggles or to a piece of furniture that you’re sitting in,” he described. But by leveraging the cloud with AWS and edge compute and Verizon’s super-fast 5G, those type of activities can become wireless without the need for a computer to beneath a chair.

“I think that means people are going to have an even more compelling experience,” Gonick said. “It is, in my view, revolutionary to the way in which immersive learning can take place.”