COVID-19 and virtual commencements around the world were not what many universities had planned for the graduating class of 2020. Walking across the stage and being hooded should be a well-earned memory that lasts a lifetime. As an attempt to offer some small amount of normalcy, Media Arts and Science asked to have "Virtual Regalia" developed and deployed in under a week, to allow the MS and PhD candidates to appear in their degree-appropriate attire during the video-based commencement reception that normally occurs in the Media Lab's third floor atrium.
Virtual Regalia operates via motion tracking and augmented reality, compositing mortarboards, tams, and robes over the participant's clothes. Physics-based simulations are also used to animate the tassel of each mortarboard or tam. As an added surprise, PhD graduates were instructed to tap their screens at a specified time and an MIT doctoral hood magically wove itself into the proper position on their shoulders.
2020 will be a year to remember and this very Media Lab solution will hopefully be one of the better memories.