This month, Alex Cook, Head of Innovation Delivery at Digital Catapult NETV, and Sophie Craggs, PROTO Studio Manager, launched the Immex City programme. They spoke with representatives of the North East Immersive Tech community, having discussions on, successes, challenges, the future of immersive tech and what the opportunities are for the North East.
We spoke to:
- Shaun Allan and Penny Day (XR Therapeutics)
- Kinnari Saraiya (Storyteller and Worldbuilder)
- Sam Harrison (Animmersion)
- Ben Greenfield (Patamake)
- Dan Baird (INFINITY27)
- Dave Black (Luminous VR)
- Tom Scarborough (Solve & Evolve)
- Vicky Hunter (MAADIGITAL)
- Alex Cook (Immex City)
Launching the Immex City Programme:
Immex City aims to grow the North East immersive technology sector to boost immersive technology adoption, skills development, local employment and cultural experiences. To achieve this Immex City is planning a series of bootcamps, events, workshops and one-to-one support for businesses interested in the opportunities being created by the tech.
The Immex City programme has been funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
The North East Tech Community:
We are blessed in the North East to have so many creative leaders in the immersive technologies space. It's an area of technology that advances and changes so quickly. Half of the challenge is maintaining a level of understanding of what tech is available and how to use it. It’s a constant battle of promoting and educating. Below we highlight the champions of the sector, innovators who go above and beyond:
XR Therapeutics - Shaun Allan and Penny Day:
Shaun, from XR Therapeutics, shared insights into working with the Unity games engine. They’re creating immersive environments to treat phobias and anxieties. He expressed enthusiasm for expanding into solutions for neurotypical clients and taking on new skilled staff.
Penny, spoke about seeing more and more use cases of the technology in healthcare settings. “I think immersive technology has always been exciting but to see it changing people’s lives and empowering them to recover from lifelong conditions is just amazing. It is really encouraging to see that large organisations like the NHS are beginning to adopt the technology too.”
Kinnari Saraiya - Virtual Worlds:
Kinnari Saraiya, is an artist and curator, but primarily, she's a storyteller and worldbuilder. Kinnari is most excited about the integration of motion capture technology and virtual world creation into her artistic practices. She sees these technologies as tools to preserve and transform ancient art forms, pushing the boundaries of reality and ushering in a new era of artistic exploration.
Animmersion – Sam Harrison:
Sam, a 3D visualisation technology expert, talked about his passion for immersive classrooms and collaborative spaces. Animmersion is enabling teachers to create their own interactive experiences to enhance learning. Sam has noted how animation for exhibitions and events has seen a decline in the last year while holographic and immersive displays are taking over.
With such a big change in demand for technology, companies like Animmersion are pivoting quickly to address the opportunities presented. Making the right partnerships & hiring the right talent that is flexible and versatile is helping the business to grow even while the underlying technology and market needs change.
Patamake - Ben Greenfield:
Bens’ company specialises in advanced wireless training simulators that are pushing performance to new limits. Previous versions of the simulators operated a 30% success rate but now with technology advanced Ben and his team have been able to push this up to 70%. With such an improvement in performance, the business has seen a lot of growth creating new jobs for the region.
INFINITY27 - Dan Baird
With our champions creating a demand for new talent skilled with immersive technology, we need to find a way to fulfil this need. Introducing INFINITY27. INFINITY27 is a training studio, serving as the next-generation talent pipeline for the games and immersive industry.
During discussions, Dan highlighted the demand for government-funded skills training. This year, 100 individuals graduated from INFINITY27 training courses. A large percentage of students successfully secured employment within the immersive tech sector. Dan expressed his passion for being part of the students journey and witnessing the impact of their work.
Vicky Hunter - MAADIGITAL
Vicky also known as Vix, is a key account manager at MAADIGITAL, which is a dynamic digital agency specialising in crafting immersive experiences. Vix shares the successful completion of a digital twin project with Birmingham University and Siemens. Their joint efforts have yielded remarkable results, informing decisions on decarbonising heat and power in the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District and sustainable development for future city planning. As we move into 2024, Vicky eagerly anticipates expanding the reach of MAADIGITAL’s innovative letsARgo platform alongside promoting the capabilities of digital twins.
Luminous VR - Dave Black:
Dave and Luminous VR, focuses on improving manufacturing operations, maintenance, and training procedures through immersive technology. They have big plans to release new technology that allows managers to create their own VR training applications. This will remove potential barriers of entry for many manufacturing, oil and gas and heavy industries wanting to adopt immersive technology to improve efficiencies in their organisation.
Once we can demonstrate the uplift from utilising immersive technology with more case studies, businesses should find it easier to allocate more budget to improving their immersive capabilities.
Solve Evolve - Tom Scarborough:
Tom is a pioneer in AI scene creation and is constantly exploring new technologies and techniques. One of which is the development of a new photogrammetry application. Tom steered the conversation around the release of the new Apple Vision Pro. He believes this will be a big catalyst for people who would never have normally touched a headset to give it a go.
And we think he is right. Apple has done it time and time again with all their devices revolutionising the way we use them. Hopefully, this is the start of the VR headset getting its time in the spotlight.
The Immex City discussions provided a platform for industry leaders to reconnect, share their journeys, and envision the future of immersive technology. Together with Immex City, we can continue to drive growth, skill development, and cultural enrichment, benefiting both businesses and the local community. This event illuminated the passion and innovation within the immersive tech sector and we would love to hear from you too.
To get involved and learn more about immersive technology or the Immex City programme, email Alex and Sophie at email@example.com or call 07734 791 044.