Thailand launches state of the art digital centre to promote Buddhism

The Buddhist Channel, 30 March 2024

Bangkok, Thailand -- On March 20, 2024, at the request of Thailand National Center for The Dissemination of Buddhism and National Buddhist Strategic Deployment, the newly created Digital Buddhism Research & Innovation Center, built by NetDragon Digital (Department of religion), was launched.

This project is situated at the "National Center for The Dissemination of Buddhism, Sangha Educational Supervisory Center, and the Tipitaka Translation Project" , bringing together the department's latest digital products and providing a promising prospect for Thailand's national effort to digitize Buddhist content.

The center is a benchmark project for digital Buddhism, which was successfully launched by NetDragon following its demonstration at the United Nations Vesak Day "Metaverse" last year.

It is also Thailand's first digital Buddhist research platform to be established after the release of the country's "Summary of the 2023-2037 Buddhist Promotion Master Plan."

The center is led by Ven Prof Dr Phra Brahmapundit, who is a member of the Supreme Sangha Committee of Thailand, Chairman of the International Council of the United Nations Vesak Day, Chairman of the International Association of Buddhist Universities, and former President of Mahachulalongkorn University. After visiting the center, Ven Brahmapundit affirmed the digitization efforts of NetDragon and supported the work to deploy Thai digital Buddhism for local and global use. He hope that the research center will in time produce a model plan for comprehensive modernisation and high tech development of Thai Buddhism.

Mi Xiong, General Manager of NetDragon Digital (Department of religion), accompanied Ven Brahmapundit and his team throughout their visit to the centre and introduced various digital products developed there. Mi Xiong expressed his honor in assisting the Thailand National Center for The Dissemination of Buddhism in constructing the country's first national level digital Buddhist research base and pledged to continue exploring the use of digital technologies to assist in the dissemination of Thai Buddhism and Buddhist culture.

During this debut, the Center showcased several digital Buddhist projects, including an "AR Vision-Nine Ball Meditation", which is a tool jointly developed by NetDragon and Rokid. The project combines Rokid's latest AR glasses to provide users with auditory, visual, and even tactile assistance for meditation. Rokid AR breaks the barriers between the body and space through "AI+AR," utilizing spatial computing capabilities for "visualization" and "interaction," allowing participants to enter into a space of intelligent creation.

This not only brings a new experience to meditation but also provides a new form of experience that is observable, touchable, and experiential for personal practices, Buddhist education, and the dissemination of Buddhist wisdom and culture. After experiencing it, Ven Brahmapundit expressed that this new form of digital practice will inspire a broader and deeper application for Buddhist education, thus deserving further exploration and promotion.

The research center also demonstrated the "Digital religion standing machine", a product that combines online guided tours, online offering of lights, and pre-booking of Buddhist events using an H5 platform as a carrier for online and offline services. Ven Brahmapundit greatly admired this product, stating that it was exactly the form of digital temple that he had envisioned for years.

Additionally, the center also displayed AR tour guides and interactive installations that combine VR technology with Buddhist themes. It also features the ActivPanel 9, a new interactive tablet from Promethean. The Promethean smart screen provides an integrated, immersive, interactive classroom and various smart teaching software tools which is expected to redefine how Buddhist education will be implemented.

The completion of the Digital Buddhist Research Center will provide a more diverse range of discussion topics for the upcoming United Nations Vesak Day. The project welcome eminent monks, scholars, and professors from around the world to visit and experience it's groundbreaking use of technology.

Mi Xiong said that the department is prepared to exchange and learn from professionals from the Buddhist world. Efforts will focus on promoting effective global dissemination of Buddhist culture, and supporting the development of Buddhist education using advanced technology. Very soon, the center will explore expandable, sustainable, and reconstructable digital Buddhist worlds in the areas of teaching, propagation, experience, and research.

NetDragon Digital will also utilise the center as base to assist the United Nations in promoting and deploying digital tools for development of Buddhism to universities and other institutions. By utilizing advanced software and hardware, such as AI, VR, and AR technologies, as well as gamification, modern technology, and modern healing methods, the department aims to promote innovation in the dissemination of Buddhist culture.

The end game is the the quest to form a sustainable way of life and preservation of time honoured values.

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