Twenty virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) projects have been given up to £20,000 of funding by CreativeXR, a programme developed by not-for-profit Digital Catapult and Arts Council England, with support from government-backed innovation agency Innovate UK.
CreativeXR is aimed at enabling the UK’s arts and cultural sector to lead the field in immersive content creation and digital innovation. Those behind the programme want to encourage applicants to focus on R&D and develop riskier, content-driven projects that contribute to developing new skills, tools and business opportunities.
In an open call for ideas, CreativeXR received over 1,000 registrations of interest and over 250 applications, but only 20 applicants were successful and have each been offered up to £20,000 of funding to develop their prototype. They will be able to work with industry leaders in workshops to help them with concept development, and they will also have access to Digital Catapult Immersive Labs in London, Brighton, North East Tees Valley and Belfast.
Creating immersive experiences
Successful applicants include a team working on an immersive experience that explores beauty from autistic perspectives; a team working on a VR experience that allows an audience to physically step into history; a group working on a VR crime thriller solving cold cases throughout British history; and a mixed reality experience that promises to enhance the UK Coastline through story, myth, fantasy and heritage.
One team, called the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, is working on ‘theatrical reality’, which is described as “a magic mirror to unchain theatrical barriers using augmented reality technologies”. Another idea, dubbed Traitor, involves a two-player interactive high stakes thriller, combining VR with live action.
“We want to make it easier for content commissioners to take more risks and explore new forms of storytelling with immersive content,” said Aurelien Simon, head of immersive at Digital Catapult.
“That’s why we’re giving the 20 teams selected the space and funding they need to experiment with their projects, as well as the chance to present their creations to content commissioners at the end of the programme,” he added.
Final showcase scheduled
The CreativeXR teams will get the opportunity to pitch at a final showcase and market in March 2018, which will be attended by the likes of Google, BBC, Sky, Sony and HTC Vive.
Clive Longbottom, analyst at IT advisory organization Quocirca, suggested that the likes of AR, VR and MR have seen too many false dawns.
“The technology has to move from just being ‘interesting’ to being truly useful. I applaud the idea of the project but I remain sceptical as to whether the expected benefits will be accrued,” he said.