New ASU Commencement app offers graduates an AR experience

In an effort to provide Fall 2020 graduates the best virtual ceremony innovation can create, a team of 12 students from ASU’s Meteor Studio, in coordination with the XR at ASU initiative, created a new way to bring graduation into living rooms around the world with a complete augmented reality experience.

The ASU Commencement app leverages augmented reality technologies to display the virtual ceremony on the viewer’s phone or tablet, using the device’s camera to capture their surroundings as the backdrop and seemingly bring graduation right into their living spaces. Using the app, graduates can virtually stand on stage with President Crow during his commencement address, join Provost Searle on the 50-yard line at the Sun Devil Football Stadium, sing the university’s Alma Mater alongside the ASU Chamber Singers, and more. 

Check out the preview of the ASU Commencement app in action

“The ASU Commencement app offers a new way for our entire Sun Devil community — including students, families,  faculty and staff — to experience the Fall 2020 graduation ceremony,” said Robert LiKamWa, director of ASU Meteor Studio and an assistant professor. “Built by students, for students, the team leveraged emerging technologies to bring graduation into the homes of graduates everywhere to offer a more interactive experience for their peers to celebrate this academic milestone.”

Starting on December 14 at 9:00am MST, graduates will be able to stream the opening University Ceremony directly through the app, inviting President Michael Crow and other campus leadership into their living rooms. The 35-minute experience will also feature a special look back over the past four years, a performance of the ASU Alma Mater and closing celebratory activities. The app is in addition to the official stream of the virtual Fall 2020 Commencement and Convocation

The app is accessible via any iOS or Android phone or tablet and is now free to download in the App Store and Google Play. There is no sign up needed to access the experience. 

Built by students, for students from design to development

In anticipation of a virtual Fall 2020 ceremony, a team of 12 students got to work this semester to design a more immersive experience for upcoming graduates and their families to celebrate and participate in the ceremony. 

Students Aashiq Shaikh, Lauren Gold, Alireza Bahremand, Linda Nguyen and Matthew Soson, students Xavier McDonald, Tracey Lott, Luis Espinoza, Taetum Knebel, Jonathan Peterson and Desarael Black, along with visiting artist William Ayton, led the project from design to development.

“As a team of graduate students, we knew firsthand the importance for upcoming graduates to be able to celebrate this milestone in their academic journey,” said Aashiq Shaikh, a PhD candidate and part of the development team for the ASU Commencement app. “Since we couldn’t bring students to graduation, we decided to bring graduation to the students, regardless of where they were. So for the past four months, we’ve been creating an augmented reality experience to accomplish this goal.”

The ASU Commencement app was built in Unity’s Game Engine, with Google ARCore and Apple ARKit technologies. The experience incorporates some of ASU’s most notable locations, including flyover footage of the Tempe campus, as well as 360 degree footage of the Sun Devil Football Stadium, shot by the team. Students partnered with the Enterprise Marketing Hub to capture the commencement ceremony address made by university leaders.

Innovation that lasts 

ASU is proud to present its first AR graduation experience. Looking ahead, students from the Meteor Studio noted that they will continue to work on developing the app over the next few months and anticipate the AR experience will be part of graduations for years to come. 

Congrats to all Fall 2020 Sun Devil graduates!