Government £18m funding encourages “a new era” of immersive entertainment projects

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A total of £18 million from the Government and industry funding has been awarded to projects that are to create engaging immersive experiences.

The projects, which use cutting edge VR, AR and mixed reality technology, are part of the ‘audience of the future’ programme run by the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. 

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.”

The demonstrator projects, to be tested at scale on real audiences, will develop immersive experiences in three key areas; Sports Entertainment, Performance, and Visitor Experience.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James

Margot James MP, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, 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.”

Esports, which has the fastest growing audience for live sports globally, will be the focus of the Sports Entertainment project and Weavr will use gameplay data to transform how remote audiences experience first esports, and further down the line physical sports.

Esports has the fastest growing audience for live sports globally

The Weavr Consortium, consisting of ESL, York University, dock10, Cybula, Focal Point VR and Rewind, will operate a £5.8 million project over two years, £4mil of which is funded by UK Research and Innovation. 

As for the Performance projects, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will bring together 15 organisations from the theatre, music, gaming, research and video production industries to put together a live performance. 

The audience will be equipped with mobile phones, extended reality headsets and live streams to see the performance.  

UK Research and Innovation 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.

UKRI Chief Executive Sir Mark Walport

“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 team at Factory-42 will work on Visitor Experience project, creating two multi-sensory, interactive worlds in London’s Natural History Museum and Science Museum. 

At the Science Museum, visitors will take part in a mixed-reality detective experience featuring high-resolution 3D scans of robots, whereas at the Natural History Museum, dinosaurs will be brought to life with a palaeontologist storyline.