UK innovation initiatives have awarded £18 million (€20.18 million) of government and industry funding to projects developing immersive entertainment technologies.
The projects, which form part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s “audience of the future” programme, will combine virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality techniques to create immersive entertainment experiences to be tested on real audiences. The audience of the future programme, administered by UK Research and Innovation, aims to help the UK’s talented storytellers work within new and disruptive media to create engaging audience experiences.
The pilot projects will initially focus on three broad areas:
- Performance – the Royal Shakespeare Company will head a consortium of groups representing the theatre, music, video production, gaming and research to create a live performance augmented by the use of mobile phones, headsets and live streams;
- Visitor experience – interactive, immersive entertainment experiences from London’s Natural History Museum and Science Museum will allow users to walk with dinosaurs and robots respectively, with abridged forms of both experiences later touring UK shopping centres; and
- Sports entertainment – building a new competitive gaming platform, WEAVR, which will use gameplay data to augment the audience’s experience of esports. WEAVR will be developed by a group which includes the world’s largest esports content producer, ESL; as well as academics and innovators in immersive entertainment technologies.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, 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 immersive entertainment 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.”