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Kayvon Fatahalian: How the pandemic changed the virtual world

An expert in computer graphics tells how the rapid shift online brought on by COVID-19 has inspired a revolution in the tools of his trade.
Paper collage of a girl reading a book for online school.
There are aspects of the live virtual lecture experience that enable more students to participate than in a classroom. | Stocksy/Yaroslav Danylchenko

For experts in digital graphics and visual perception, like computer scientist Kayvon Fatahalian, the recent pandemic has been a call to arms. Fatahalian says he and others in the field felt an urgent responsibility to harness their background in computer graphics and interactive techniques to improve life for people across the globe.

He says new, virtual tools have proved better than past, real ones in improving certain aspects of our everyday lives.

His job as a computer scientist is to make those experiences more successful, more of the time. His role as a teacher is a case in point. While the virtual world is not a replacement for face-to-face interaction between students and instructors, Fatahalian notes there are many aspects of the live virtual lecture experience that enable more students to participate, and participate more frequently than in a physical classroom.

Fatahalian is now busier than ever discovering where and how the virtual world excels and creating new tools to meet the evolving need, as he tells listeners to this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast with host Russ Altman. Listen and subscribe here.



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