Enhanced Teaching and Learning with AI Enabled Tracking Cameras

by Deep Batra

The Computing Services Centre (CSC) is introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based tracking cameras in all teaching venues for online and mixed-mode classes.  The camera will automatically pan and track the teacher when he/she walks within the designated area at the teaching venue, thus creating a more immersive learning experience for students attending classes in person and remotely.  CityU is the first university in the region to deploy such technology in teaching venues at such a large scale.


During the initial pandemic outbreak of COVID-19, CityU had in record short time turned all classes into online (a.k.a. CityU-Learning v1) and tackled all the possible challenges arising from adoptions, privacy, and security issues.

With students demanding certain level of physical presence, the teaching mode further evolved to mixed mode (a.k.a. CityU-Learning v2), allowing students to attend classes remotely or in person.

These efforts did not stop there. To further exemplify and enhance the teaching and learning experience and quality, continuous discussions and brainstorming sessions were held with faculties and students.  One of the requirements in highest demand was that both faculties and students did not want the video being stand-still.  Faculties wished to be able to walk around freely to foster collaborative and interactive learning experience with students who attended either online or physically.  

However, this would never be possible as it would mean a large team of camera crew be required for filming from 9am to 10pm in over 130 central teaching venues.  The CSC therefore researched on relevant technological solutions on global landscape.  Solutions from various countries were tested - some requiring teachers to wear chargeable neckbands while others requiring pre-configurations with every teacher.  Finally, the CSC identified two different AI-based tracking cameras which suit the needs of larger lecture theatres and smaller classrooms.  

20x zoom ratio tracking camera for Classrooms
30x zoom ratio tracking camera for Lecture Theatres

After a series of tests and mock-ups, it was confirmed that the technology helped create a much better teaching and learning experience.

LI-1503 Lecture Theatre
Lecture Theatre at LI-1503

With concerted effort from the CSC colleagues and the support from the Office of the Vice-President (Administration) and Office of the Chief Information Officer, these cameras, from date of delivery to installation completion, were installed within 3 weeks in over 130 teaching venues.  We called it CityU-Learning v2.1.

The CSC is pleased to confirm that AI Tracking Cameras are now ready for use to allow teachers to move freely within the teaching venue while keeping the lively teaching and learning atmosphere during teaching. Hand gestures, facial expressions, movements and even voice intonations are well captured for students, so that they can stay focused on the course teachings.

Teaching staff who wishes to get support and understand more about the technology may visit any of the available lecture theatres or classrooms to experience how it works.  Our support staff will be more than happy to run through the rehearsal with you.  Please do not hesitate to make an appointment with us via x8340 or it.servicedesk@cityu.edu.hk.