Arizona State Launches Zoom Innovation Lab

Arizona State University opened its new Zoom Innovation Lab on Thursday, a physical space where students can gather and create new tools to use with the eponymous video conferencing platform.

The lab, located on Arizona State’s Tempe campus, is equipped with a green screen room and recording studio, in addition to other collaborative spaces. Lev Gonick, chief information officer of ASU Public Enterprise, described the space’s location on campus as similar to a “storefront on Main Street,” with its prime location hopefully encouraging students of all disciplines to enter and experience.

Arizona State has been a long-time Zoom customer and was one of the few major research institutes to enter into an enterprise contract with the company before COVID-19. During the new five-year partnership, the university will work directly with Zoom to develop learning opportunities for students that will prepare them for jobs with the company, Gonick said.

For Zoom, the partnership is an opportunity to create a new talent pool, said Pat La Morte, head of the company’s global education solutions.

Projects undertaken in the Zoom Innovation Lab will be led by ASU students, with guidance from Zoom and its technology partners. La Morte said Zoom provides a software development kit that will allow students to take a closer look at the video platform’s underlying code.

ASU students have already begun integrating Zoom into a telehealth app developed by ASU’s Luminosity Lab. In collaboration with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, student industrial designers and software developers are creating an app that will allow doctors to virtually connect with patients in their hospital rooms.

Rooms at the Phoenix Children’s are equipped with Amazon Fire TVs. By adding a camera, doctors and nurses will be able to use the Zoom-enabled app to perform their rounds virtually.

The ASU Enterprise Technology Learning Futures team has also built a virtual campus that students can explore using VR headsets. Students have avatars, which can click on a virtual campus object, such as a projection screen, to start or join a Zoom call. Users appear on the Zoom call as avatars, but will be able to see people using Zoom from a physical device.

Gonick said it may eventually become possible to host virtual campus tours, job fairs and other events, with everyone sharing a virtual space. He also said students won’t necessarily need a headset to interact with what he called “ASUniverse” — they’ll be able to call in from the real world and see the virtual campus.

On Friday, 125 students from multiple disciplines will come to the Zoom lab to contribute ideas and code to the “ASUniverse” project.

Over time, Arizona State hopes to integrate Zoom into its campus app, making it easier for students to connect with faculty, staff and peers, Gonick said. The university can also help develop educational materials that could be shared with other Zoom partner institutions.