Tech graduates in India attend online convocation ceremony as VR avatars


  • Technology
  • Wednesday, 26 Aug 2020

Subhasis in his digital form presenting a certificate to a student avatar during an online IIT Bombay convocation ceremony, which was held in a virtual reality setting. — Screengrab from YouTube

A tech institute in India held a convocation ceremony online where students received their degrees as avatars in a virtual reality setting, according to a report by website Interesting Engineering.

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay held the ceremony, involving the participation of up to 2,000 students, on Aug 23 and broadcast it live on Facebook and YouTube.

A recording of the ceremony on YouTube revealed that members of the senate, or the IIT Bombay's academic board, also attended the ceremony digitally. They were filmed walking into the event separately and then digitally edited together in the same room. Footage of them clapping for the graduates were played throughout the event.

Certain portions of the ceremony were then dedicated to letting the student avatars accept their certificates or achievement medals from an avatar version of the IIT Bombay director, Professor Subhasis Chaudhuri, and chief guest, Professor Duncan Haldane, a physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016.

A voiceover during the ceremony prompted students to open the IIT 2020 Convocation app on their mobile phones to see their personal avatars receive their academic honour in an animated video.

“Providing a virtual reality experience to all our graduates needed not only highly innovative steps but also a tremendous effort by our professors and staff. They did it for the students," Subhasis said in a report by IIT Bombay.

The ceremony also included musical performances by singers and instrumentalists, who were recorded remotely through video conferencing.

Times Of India reported that a team of 20 members spent two months working on the virtual ceremony, from filming individuals recording their part for the event to designing the student avatars and coming up with the mobile application.

Subhasis told the news portal that the event involved a lot of "planning and technology implementation".

IIT Bombay also created a virtual experience for parents to visit hostels and the campus as part of the convocation ceremony tradition. The video of the ceremony has received more than 50,000 views on YouTube with most viewers leaving congratulatory messages for the graduates.

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