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5 Aug 2021

APU Offers the Next Big Thing in Computer Technology by Introducing Extended Reality (XR)

Thanks to emerging technologies, businesses have been able to manage and adapt to the pandemic, achieving business sustainability, customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

One of the few rising technologies that contributed to the success is the ecosystem that oversees interactions and engagement with customer-clients in a realistic way — Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) as well as the hybrid, Mixed Reality (MR) where users can interact with digital objects realistically.

But the next big thing that could revolutionise computing is Extended Reality (XR).

Diversity of XR technology

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Extended Reality (XR) has helped a wide range of businesses tremendously, especially in this time of pandemic.

Businesses are applying XR technology in a variety of ways, including telehealth, virtual museum tours, virtual try-ons in fashion and audio-visual entertainment and gaming. Many of these activities can be performed in the comfort of one’s home without the need for physical travel — highly convenient given the many lockdowns that are happening globally.

With an estimated uptake of up to US$80 billion for VR/AR hardware and software combined, the sudden growth of this technology in business has led to a critical need for talent.

APU first among higher education institutions in Malaysia to have XR studio

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In partnership with Ministry XR, Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) has invested RM2.25mil to set up an XR studio — the first of its kind among universities in Malaysia. The effort aims to develop budding talents for the AR/VR/MR ecosystem in computer technology.

The studio is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities which include a 360-degree volumetric video capture zone, EDEX (extended education experience) station, VolCap proprietary software, mixed reality smart glasses in the form of Microsoft HoloLens and high specification gaming standard workstations. This immersive space is designed for shared and collaborative education experiences that excite, inspire and stimulate students at all levels.

This partnership is part of the academia-industry collaboration which continues to be APU’s primary strength in having industry-on-campus, ultimately ensuring high employability for APU graduates.

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Prof Ir Ts Dr Vinesh Thiruchelvam, APU Chief Innovation Officer who is leading the APU’s XR Studio project, developed the VR/AR education blueprint together with Ministry XR. On the other hand, Ts Dr Siti Azreena, Creative Interactive Technology (CIT) lecturer at APU’s School of Computing explained that the XR Studio is open to students from multiple disciplines.

“The XR Studio comprises four stations with engagements designed to generate interest across multiple disciplines and it is the only lab where students can experience and build on with professional tools to create immersive AR, VR and MR applications.” She also added that the studio is not limited to class and lab lessons, but also open for research purposes.

Assignments carried out at XR Studio further provide inquisitive minds with the advantage of distinctive exposure, practical application and knowledge. With integration of multiple technologies, students will have their skills honed technically and creatively which ultimately leads to generating high-value creative technologists for the new digital economy.

In addition to this groundbreaking XR studio, APU had earlier launched — and now hosts — the VR/AR International Association (VRARA) Malaysian chapter. This initiative provides an invaluable opportunity for students and staff to interact and share knowledge, interests and development with a global network of VR/AR peers and professionals.

Bachelor Degree with specialisation in VR/AR

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The BSc (Hons) in Multimedia Technology with a specialism in VR/AR at APU will equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to a professional qualification in VR/AR. The 3-year programme comprises specialised modules which include Introduction to VR/AR, Digital Image Production, Audio Visual Technology, VR/AR Design Principles, Advanced VR Technology, VR/AR Design Project and Investigations in Multimedia Technology.

Through unprecedented collaboration between APU and its industry partners, students are inspired to design compelling stories via the creation of interactive spatial computing systems that are supportive of the increasing industry demands. To boot, projects and assignments carried out at the XR Studio allow students to focus on developing skills in spatial computing related to XR technical expertise, integration and XR creative expertise.

To enhance their practical skills alongside their academic knowledge, students will undergo a 16-week internship with APU’s industrial partner Ministry XR and other VR/AR companies or through an internship at APU’s XR Studio with guidance from the respective lecturers and industry XR Engineers.

Students won’t have to worry about navigating their career prospects as APU’s career centre is available to help facilitate the transition from graduate to working professional through career fairs and links to career preparation services, job opportunities and employers.

APU’s graduates are highly sought after not only within Malaysia but also overseas. According to the latest Annual Graduate Tracer Study by the Higher Education Ministry, 100% of APU graduates were employed upon graduation.

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