Metaverse VR/AR Research Day focused on the future of work and education receives great response

HFT Stuttgart and the Institute of Applied Research welcomed over 100 participants from business, academia and industry and honoured the achievements of researchersrnehmen und ehrten die Verdienste von Forschenden

The Metaverse VR/AR Research Day offered exciting insights into the opportunities and challenges for the world of work and education of the future. More than 100 participants from research, industry and education gained exciting insights into the trends and developments in the metaverse - in a panel discussion, in workshops and in personal dialogue at the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences. For the first time, an HFT ceremony was held to honour researchers for their achievements.

The Rector of HFT Stuttgart Prof. Dr. Katja Rade and the Vice-Rector for Research and Digitalization Prof. Dr. Volker Coors (top left in the photo) welcomed the audience and introduced HFT Stuttgart as a whole and the research department in particular. Two keynote speeches then provided insights into the latest advances and the transformative potential of the metaverse, which is expected to generate enormous growth for the economy. Prof. Dr. Dieter Uckelmann (bottom right), Scientific Director of the Institute for Applied Research (IAF) at HFT, presented the first keynote "From the Internet of Things to the Enterprise & Industrial Metaverse", showing how the Internet of Things has triggered industry-specific implementations in areas such as Industry 4.0, Smart Building and Smart City. "The resulting digital twins are the ideal basis for the upcoming linking, visualization and control in the virtual world - the metaverse. Universities therefore have the task of offering appropriate courses and driving forward research in this area," says IAF Director Uckelmann.

The second keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Christoph Runde (photo below left) from the Virtual Dimension Center (VDC) dealt with the topic of "Baden-Württemberg in the metaverse - assessment and prospects for the CyberLÄND: what we can learn from Finland, Dubai and South Korea." He saw enormous potential for Germany in the metaverse: "We have mastered all the necessary metaverse technologies and have great domain knowledge from the fields of application - such as industry, medicine and construction. But Germany is not currently one of the international metaverse pioneers. We urgently need to change that," appealed the VDC Managing Director.

The numerous visitors used the breaks to exchange ideas and network - in classic Swabian style with pretzels and Maultaschen.

The topic of Metaverse was debated in a panel discussion and topic-specific workshops, which highlighted a wide range of applications and perspectives. Prof. Dr. Dieter Uckelmann (IAF), and Vice Rector Research and Digitalization Prof. Dr. Volker Coors Antje Kunze (Senior Client Partner at Unity Technologies), business psychologist Prof. Dr. Patrick Müller (Deputy Head of the Competence Center Innovation Acceptance and Transformation at HFT Stuttgart), Prof. Dr. Sebastian Speiser (among others, Augmented Reality /Virtual Reality Engineering course at HFT Stuttgart) discussed on the podium. The architect Prof. Dr. Philipp Reinfeld (currently HFT deputy professor inarchitecture with a connection to AR/VR and metaverse in the field of space) was connected via video call.

Antje Kunze emphasized: "In the next five years, everything will revolve around the metaverse. The use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) has arrived in our everyday lives. Digital twins have become increasingly important across all industries and are now finally receiving the attention they deserve." Kunze is Chairwoman of the "Metaverse Forum" working group at Bitkom and Chapter President for Germany of the global AR/VR Association.


Whether a technology ultimately prevails depends crucially on whether it is accepted by people. Prof. Dr. Patrick Müller took on the perspective of acceptance research: "If we want VR and AR to be accepted by users in everyday life, we should not only think about what is technically possible and impressive, but also where we can create real added value for users." Together with his colleague, Prof. Dr. Thomas Bäumer, Professor of Consumer Research, he also led the workshop "VR in technology acceptance using the example of innovative mobility concepts." Bäumer: "People are best able to evaluate things that they have experienced personally. Virtual reality (VR) is therefore so interesting because it enables urban planning ideas to be made tangible for citizens."

Prof. Dr. Volker Coors and his research group are investigating how citizens can get involved in urban planning using urban digital twins: "Urban digital twins facilitate the urban planning process because they use data to depict the real city. This also makes it easier for citizens to participate."

VR/AR will also play an important role in the education of students in the future. The job market will need highly qualified specialists who are trained in this field, as Prof. Dr. Gero Lückemeyer, Professor of Business Informatics, Computer Science, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Engineering, emphasizes. He led the workshop "Programming in the Metaverse": "It is becoming increasingly important to teach VR/AR skills to students because, like AI, the technology will permeate many areas of life. In particular, the need for qualified programmers in dynamic areas such as AR/VR and the metaverse is also increasing."

"What metaverse skills will the working world of the future need?" was the topic of the workshop held by Dr . Daniela Claus, Mikael Bagratuni and Juan Sardi Barzallo. Daniela Claus, head of the doctoral program as part of the HIRE HR project at HFT Stuttgart, said: "We need to build up skills not only for the technical-digital understanding of technologies, but also for social-personal skills, such as dealing with uncertainty, the ability to adapt or the courage to leave previous habits behind." Mikael Bagratuni, academic assistant and doctoral student, adds: "The Metaverse offers employees the opportunity to use sophisticated digital tools to fully immerse themselves in a virtual working environment that should feel real. The focus should be on interaction, communication and collaboration."

"In the future, it will be impossible to imagine assembly planning in companies without the digital twin, because it allows a wide range of product variants to be realized in a shorter development time and new assembly content to be integrated," says Prof. Dr. Nicola Wolpert, Professor of Geometry and Industrial Applications at HFT Stuttgart, who, together with Kai Simon Schleicher (MBC), led the workshop "Digital twins in assembly planning". Volker Coors, Mohammad Alfakhori and Thunyathep Santhanavanich), "VR in technology acceptance using the example of innovative mobility concepts" (led by Prof. Dr. Patrick Müller, Prof. Dr. Thomas Bäumer) and "Industrial Metaverse: The basis for factories of the future and beyond§ (headed by Prof. Dr. Dieter Uckelmann, Antje Kunze).


HFT Ceremony - Honoring the merits of researchers

An HFT ceremony took place for the first time. Vice-Rector Prof. Dr. Volker Coors honored scientists for their outstanding doctorates. They each delivered a short pitch on their topic: Dr. Keyu Bao ("Modelling and Assessment of Biomass-PV Tradeoff within the Framework of the Food-Energy-Water Nexus"; supervisor: Prof. Dr. Bastian Schröter), Dr. Henriette Knapp ("RFID in complex production and logistics processes in the automotive industry", supervisor: Prof. Dr. Uckelmann), and Dr. Michele Franco Adesso ("Automated validation of collisions in the digital mock-up process of complex technical products": supervisor: Prof. Dr. Nicola Wolpert).

Deputy IAF Director Prof. Dr. Heidrun Bögner-Balz honored researchers for the first submission of a research proposal: Prof. Dr. Alexander Beetz; Prof. Dr. Dan Bauer and Prof. Dr. Birol Fitik "We from the IAF research team know how much effort goes into a research proposal and later into the implementation of a project. We want to recognize and encourage this self-motivation. The university and the Institute for Applied Research are proud of everyone who conducts research at HFT," said Bögner-Balz.

Another prize was awarded for the publication with the highest ranking in 2023. Muhammad Alfakhori (first author) and Juan Sardi Barzallo ("Occlusion Handling for Mobile AR Applications in Indoor and Outdoor Scenarios").

The last prize went to the losers, as there were also rejections of research proposals in competition with many educational institutions. Accordingly, tickets were drawn in a beautifully decorated gift box with the wish that the "lucky losers" would be among the "lucky winners" in the next application.

Science cabaret and musical finale

The celebration was framed by a science cabaret by Professor Timm Sigg, who proved that math and humor go together wonderfully, and a cheerful and lively musical interlude with piano (Prof. Sigg), saxophone(Juan Sardi Barzallo) and drums(Prof. Dr. Berndt Zeitler) with a table lamp.

Special thanks went to the moderation team Diana Kovaleva and Chris Veit and the HFT organizing team of the Research Day: Dr. Daniela Claus, Dr. Beatriz Unger-Bimczok, Dr. Anja Ernst and Suanne Rytina. During a wrap-up, IAF Director Uckelmann gave an outlook on the Day of Research 2025 with the theme Transformation of the City.

The event was supported by the iCity research partnership. This is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with around €10 million as part of the "Strong universities of applied sciences - impetus for the region" (FH-Impuls) funding measure. The event was also supported by the "Friends of HFT Stuttgart e.V." association.

Text: HFT Stuttgart (Susanne Rytina) Photos: HFT Stuttgart (Alfred Max)


Publish date: 24. June 2024