AHRC and EPSRC to fund 32 projects leading on future immersive experiences

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have announced the funding of 32 new research projects, exploring the future of ‘immersive experiences’, ranging from using VR to recreate the benefits of outdoor group singing, to exploring new immersive Circus experiences and allowing museum goers to virtually peruse priceless ancient texts that would otherwise be off limits.

AHRC writes:

The research will be carried out by interdisciplinary teams made up of academics, businesses and creative industries practitioners to ensure the projects’ creative and commercial value. Each project has been awarded up to £75,000 of the £1.88m of total funding and will last between six and nine months, with all projects due to start before April 1 2018.

The 32 chosen projects will explore a mixture of three areas in which the UK has world leading creative assets and technology partners:

  • Memory which looks at how immersive technology can work with our memory based institutions like museums and archives
  • Place which considers how immersive experiences can work in combination with place based services
  • Performance which explores what new immersive experiences can be offered to audiences.

The projects include:

The hills are alive: combining the benefits of natural environments and group singing through immersive experiences led by Dr Helena Daffern at University of York
Research has shown the numerous beneficial effects of activities like group singing especially outdoors. This project will allow participants to participate in outdoor group singing through virtual reality – including those who would not otherwise be able to – while also virtually recreating a key point in the history of UK heritage.

XR: CIIRKES / Extraordinary Circus Creative Immersive Interdisciplinary Knowledge Exchanges led by Helen Wendy Kennedy at University of Brighton
Recreating and expanding on the thrill of circus performance, this project brings together circus and street arts directors and performers with researchers at the forefront of interactive and immersive technologies to discover what innovative and emotionally impactful immersive experiences are possible through new technology.

Augmented Browsing of Books in Historic Libraries led by Professor Nicholas Pickwoad at University of the Arts London
With the potential to put thousands of historical books and documents into the hands of the public, this project will allow museum-goers to pick out and flick through historical books through phone-based augmented reality. As well as the texts, users will be able to view virtual annotations and without any risk of damage to the books themselves.

Immersion and Inclusive Music Performance led by Dr Franziska Schroeder at Queen’s University of Belfast
This project examines how immersive technologies can be used to better understand the experiences of young musicians affected by a physical disability. It will focus on the use of Inclusive Immersive Technologies in music performance and workshops where disabled musicians will co-design technologies for use in a musical showcase.

Virtual Holocaust Memoryscapes: Scoping the Creation of Immersive, Spatial Archives of the Bergen?Belsen and Neuengamme Memorial Sites led by Dr Matthew Boswell at University of Leeds
The project begins the development of immersive, spatial archives which will use technology in a nuanced and reflective fashion to ensure holocaust memory remains relevant for future generations. Working with Nazi concentration camp memorial sites, Holocaust education organisations and cutting-edge creative technology companies, this project will aim to connect significant landscapes from the Holocaust with relevant films, photographs, diaries, artworks, oral testimonies and historical documents.

Professor Andrew Chitty, AHRC Creative Economy Champion, said: ‘The unprecedented breadth and quality of applications for this call illustrates the extraordinary dynamism and expertise of practitioners applying immersive technologies to new narratives and experiences. As UK creative industries continue to excel, it is vital that they are positioned to make the most of the opportunities that arise from new technology. The 32 chosen research projects will help ensure that they’re ready to do just that.’

These 32 projects will lead the way for the future of immersive experiences and form part of a wider investment strategy, part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the recently announced £33m* Audiences of the Future programme and demonstrators.

For further press information please contact:

Joe Lewis, AHRC Press and Social Media Officer
Tel: 01793 416 021 Email: j.lewis@ahrc.ac.uk

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