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Projects to demonstrate how technology will revolutionise audience experiences


Projects to demonstrate how technology will revolutionise audience experiences

Projects announced today will demonstrate the potential of innovative new technologies to revolutionise how audiences experience stage performances, museums and video games.

The projects, which will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and funded with £18 million of government and industry funding, will bring globally-renowned storytellers and technology companies together to create a new generation of immersive experiences for audiences in the UK.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said: "The UK is home to some of the world's leading digital and creative talent. Through our modern Industrial Strategy and multi-million pound creative industries sector deal, we are bringing them together to give audiences a truly unique experience.

"The growth of immersive technology has the power to transform the way in which we watch theatre, play games or go to the cinema, and these new projects will demonstrate how we can take people closer than ever before to the live action."

Science and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore said: “We are now in a new era of how we consume entertainment, and these projects announced today could see us walking with dinosaurs and experiencing being in the stands of major football matches from our own living rooms.

“We have an impressive reputation of producing outstanding sport, cultural institutions and visual entertainment. That is why, through our modern industrial Strategy, we are building on these strengths to make the areas even more accessible and enjoyable to people, whilst supporting high-skilled jobs across the UK.”

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “New technologies being pioneered in the UK, such as virtual and augmented reality, are fundamentally changing the way we participate in cultural experiences, from watching dramatic performances and visiting museums to playing video games.

“Through investments such as the projects announced today, the government and UK Research and Innovation will support the creative industries to innovate in exciting ways that will deliver new experiences for audiences of the future with accompanying economic benefits.”

The projects, supported with £12 million of government grant funding and £6 million from industry, are a key element of the Audience of the Future programme announced as part of the government’s Creative Industries Sector Deal.

The winning projects are:

  • Performance – led by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the project involves 15 specialist organisations and pioneers in immersive technology from theatre, the music industry, video production, gaming and research. They will work together to explore what it means to perform live using emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR).  Audiences will no longer be bound by location. Using devices such as mobile phones, extended reality headsets and streams into live performance environments, or even in the home, audiences will experience live performance like never before. 
  • Visitor Experience – a new pioneering collaboration led by Factory 42 and involving the National History Museum and the Science Museum Group that will bring dinosaurs and robots to life by placing audiences in new worlds and giving them the ability to interact with them. Two multi-sensory and interactive worlds will be created in the iconic rooms of the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, combining mixed reality technology and immersive theatre. At the Science Museum visitors will encounter a mixed-reality detective experience featuring high-resolution 3D scans of robots and other iconic objects from its collection to bring the latest in robotics and artificial intelligence to life. At the Natural History Museum, awe-inspiring dinosaurs from its collection will be brought to life and visitors will experience the detective work of palaeontologists and share the thrill of scientific discovery. Shorter sampler versions will also tour a number of shopping centres across the UK.
  • Sport Entertainment – Esports – video games that are played competitively and watched by massive audiences – has the fastest growing global audience for live sports. In 2017 over 388 million people worldwide watched esports, and the number of esports fans is projected to grow a further 50 per cent by 2020. This project will produce a new platform called Weavr that leverages the data-rich environment of esports to transform the way esports – and further down the line physical sports – are experienced through cross reality technologies by remote audiences. Through a consortium that includes ESL, the largest esports content producer in the world, as well as leading academics and innovators across immersive technologies, data-driven content production and broadcast, Weavr will transform the experiences of millions of esports fans, generate new audiences and open up new revenue streams for the broadcast entertainment industry.

An additional demonstrator covering Moving Image will be announced very shortly.

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