Immersive technology: a game-changer for UK industry

Aurelien Simon of Digital Catapult

The ability to immerse a viewer within the content they’re consuming has long been the goal of the entertainment industry. Whether it’s the computer games we play or the films we watch, directors aim to build a story that draws audiences in completely.

As technology has developed, this has become simpler to do. We’ve moved from black and white film footage to the era of computer-generated imagery and impressive visual effects. Now, as headsets enable us to enter completely virtual environments and take storytelling to its next stage, the applications for immersive technologies – whether it’s virtual reality, mixed reality or augmented reality – expand far beyond the entertainment sector, says Aurelien Simon, head of Immersive, Digital Catapult.

Catapult_Immersive_Lab_Launch_May2017--106The technology is still emerging and we’re seeing a number of companies beginning to develop applications and tools that explore its potential across a range of industries. Immersive technologies are set to affect us in our day-to-day working lives.

It’s why Digital Catapult established its Augmentor programme: to help these companies develop products that will aid business and ultimately drive a positive impact on the UK economy.

Augmentor is a 10-week programme that provides technical and business mentorship to early stage companies operating in the immersive sector.

The current organisations on the programme are:

    • Gravity Sketch – A multi-platform 3D creation tool that allows users to create 3D models, scenes, and art work in a fun and intuitive way
    • Immersive Rehab – Creates interactive physiotherapy programmes in VR that improve the effectiveness of physical and neurological rehabilitation, helping improve patient recovery Kinicho – 3D audio tools for producers that seek a richer, fuller and more authentic listener experience
    • Reality Zero One – A platform that makes it easy for users to replicate real things and stream them into virtual, augmented or mixed reality
    • VRTU – Creates virtual reality content specifically tailored to provide care givers and patients with therapeutic resources to combat the symptoms of dementia

You can see how a diverse range of sectors are set to benefit from these applications. Take Gravity Sketch and its technology, and apply it to the automotive sector. The current process for drawing the designs for a car can take 12 weeks. Before a design even hits the production line, it’s got to go through weeks of development and editing.

Now, with Gravity Sketch technology, you can draw a design in 3D and export it into CAD in just a few days. As a result, design and production pipelines speed up hugely – for the benefit of automotive manufacturers and, importantly, their bottom line.

Catapult_Immersive_Lab_Launch_May2017--192VRTU is in the early testing phase within care homes, but as a therapeutic tool it’s already offering amazing results. It creates environments from people’s childhoods, so a dementia sufferer can experience a virtual scene that’s memorable to them, helping connect with the real world afterwards. As a tool with a social impact, it’s set to bring immersive technologies and digital health together – improving the lives of dementia sufferers through the use of VR.

A wide range of industries will benefit enormously from immersive technologies, as demonstrated by these applications. The Augmentor programme involves early stage investor SeedCamp, which brings an understanding of what it takes to build a successful company around amazing ideas and products.

Augmentor will give these startups the support to develop their businesses and generate commercial models that will ultimately boost the immersive ecosystem here in the UK – from entertainment to digital health and manufacturing. From there, the wider world will be able to understand just what immersive technology is capable of.

The author of this blog is Aurelien Simon, head of Immersive, Digital Catapult

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