CityU students’ exhibition funded by HKJC Charities Trust inspires greater empathy through innovative technology

The first exhibition of the “Jockey Club Enhancing Youth Empathy Project through Immersive Visualisation” (the Project) organised by City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust will showcase students’ innovative solutions to help those in need and protect the environment.

The aim of the Project is to use CityU's leading immersive visualisation technology and expertise in computer science, engineering and creative media to empower young people to solve social problems and develop empathy among the youth in order to promote a more inclusive and sustainable society.

Officiating guests at the opening ceremony for the exhibition on 17 January included Mr Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the Hong Kong SAR Government; Ms Winnie Ying, Head of Charities (Grant Making – Youth, Education & Training, Poverty) of The Hong Kong Jockey Club; Mr Lester Garson Huang, CityU Council Chairman; Professor Way Kuo, CityU President; Professor Matthew Lee Kwok-on, Leader of the Project and Vice-President (Development and External Relations); and the coordinators  of the three programmes under the Project: Professor Horace Ip Ho-shing, Vice-President (Student Affairs); Professor Sophie St-Hilaire, Department of Infectious Diseases and Public Health; and Dr Lam Miu-ling, Assistant Professor of the School of Creative Media.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr Huang thanked the Trust for sponsoring the Project and organising the exhibition. He said that CityU students could take this opportunity to express their creativity by using immersive visualisation technology to contribute to society.

“Nowadays, social innovation is an important process for developing effective and novel solutions to social and environmental issues in support of social progress. At CityU, we embrace a holistic perspective on social innovation, emphasising knowledge creation, skills development and values cultivation to enhance the social impact and enrich the lives of both innovators and beneficiaries,” he said.

“What we are witnessing today are truly impressive, i.e. collaboration and innovative solutions from NGOs, academics and students to empower our young people to develop passion for needy groups in society, and to develop a stronger sense of responsibility among them to address the related social challenges,” said Mr Yang.

“The potential benefits (of the Project) boil down to better understanding the social or environmental issues from different perspectives, reducing inter-group conflicts, enhancing empathy in the community and even providing remedies to social problems,” he added.

“Youth is one of the Trust’s strategic focus areas. We aim to support youth development and tertiary education to inspire the city’s young people through programmes with innovative approaches. Through funding this Project, we hope it can bring manifold benefits to the city’s youth and society. With greater empathy, our young people can uphold the spirit of helping others and grasp every chance to collaborate, learn advanced technology and be change-makers,” said Ms Ying.

Professor Kuo expressed his deep gratitude for the enormous support of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the concerted efforts of CityU’s professors, other faculty members and student innovators, as well as the participation of the NGO collaborators and the service targets.

“CityU is dedicated to promoting discovery and innovation through its professional education. I am glad to see students taking advantage of our innovative technologies to help those in need and support sustainability. We believe that this is best way to give back to society and improve people’s lives,” he stated.

More than 10 innovative works will be displayed at the exhibition from 17 to 23 January on the 5th floor of CityU’s Lau Ming Wai Academic Building.

These works have been developed from three programmes under the Project: Companions of Social Inclusion (COSI); Technologies for the Elderly and Disabled People by Youths (TEDY); and Walking with Omura’s Whale Project (WOW).

The exhibits include:

  • Virtual reality (VR) experience of the cultures of minority groups: Through VR technology, viewers can step into a Sikh temple and learn about the religion of a minority group in Hong Kong. They can also go into the community and visit shops like a butcher’s and a grocery store, marts selling Nepalese DVDs and traditional clothing, as well as halal restaurants where they can learn about minority cultures and living environment;
  • Smart phone app and installation that aid visually impaired bowling athletes: Serving like a guide, the application can inform athletes about their performance, such as the number of pins knocked down and the position of those remaining;
  • VR simulation of using an electric wheelchair: This is a collaborative project between CityU students and the Community Rehabilitation Service Support Centre of the Hospital Authority. By using 3D VR technology, a new wheelchair user can feel what it is like to control an electronic wheelchair and practice the necessary operating skills;
  • 3D print of a model of a 6-metre Omura’s whale: The world’s first complete Omura’s whale model, in a scale of 1:2 created by 3D printing technology.
     

“The Project will last for three years. In the first year, we focused on organising a series of workshops to train students’ skills in VR technology. In the coming two years, we will lead students on in-depth research and let them interact with primary and secondary school students as well as the general public. As we promote the Project to society, we hope that more people in need can benefit,” Professor Lee said.

About “Jockey Club Enhancing Youth Empathy Project through Immersive Visualisation”

The Project, which City University of Hong Kong launched in January 2017 with funding worth over HK$15 million from the Trust, comprises three related programmes aimed at enabling young people to develop compassion for ethnic minority groups, the elderly and disabled, as well as nature and the environment. Utilising the University’s strengths in immersive visualisation technology, the young participants will be encouraged to develop their skills through “perspective-taking” and “role-taking”, and to create innovative solutions that meet the challenges and problems that different groups face.

 

Media enquiries: Cathy Lau, Communications and Public Relations Office (Tel: 3442 6304 or 9289 4060)