On Wednesday 18 May 2022, SETsquared Exeter’s latest Discovery Room event was held at Real Idea’s Market Hall in Plymouth at the Immersive Dome. The Immersive Technology event highlighted the regional strengths and opportunities that the South West possesses in the field, with the sold out event drawing in speakers including Meta’s Lucia Tahan. The event cemented the notion that the Immersive Technology scene in the region is dynamic and bursting with potential. Yet, capable of delivering demonstrable impact far beyond its geographic boundaries.
The Dome, created by Real Ideas, is an iconic, 21st century world-class immersive technology centre situated in the heart of Devonport and is the first of kind in Europe. Its capabilities enable participants to explore immersive realities without the need for a VR headset, revealing a world of incredible creative and immersive experiences. Real Ideas has been making positive change happen – for people, organisations and places – since 2007. Their work includes restoring and repurposing heritage buildings, operating them successfully as creative hubs in communities experiencing disadvantage.
The event was also produced in collaboration with University of Exeter’s new Exeter Immersive Research Network, funded by Research England’s Policy Support Fund which brings together researchers working with immersive technologies from across disciplines. The Research Network unites researchers and immersive facilities across the University exploring the potential of Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality in sectors from mining to theatre.
The positive change and emerging potential through the exploration of immersive realities was eloquently evidenced by the event’s speakers during their compelling presentations highlighting a variety of sectors.
Lucia Tahan described how the Augmented Reality she is helping to develop may evolve in private homes and public spaces and how creators are exploring the potential impact on individuals and society.
Jonathan Watt and Dr. Payal Loma Ghatnekar from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust revealed how VR and XR is improving staff training and patient experience and outcome.
Gavin Buckingham spoke of how VR has widened participation and helped to tackle what can be challenging diagnostic pathways in childhood disorders such as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). The use of VR has enabled more research to be conducted and precise metrics on data across a wide range of issues obtained.
Dr Hannah Wood uses AR for digital storytelling, tackling significant themes and creating a fusion of reality through fiction wrapping around real heritage via immersive tech.
Phil Jones explained the implications of putting immersive experiences into museum settings. The Covid pandemic revealed the revolutionary changes needed in culture industry to keep going. The move to digital experience became necessary and exciting development.
The panel session with Toby de Burgh, Samuel Vine, Lindsey Hall and Rupert Lorraine concluded the day’s event, summarising how can we make more of our research, assets and expertise in adopting and developing immersive technologies. The consensus was on the combined potential of bringing together the region’s innovation ecosystem. Challenges need to be tackled together and momentum built to co-create and grow. However, the region has the potential to become a significant leader in immersive technology.
The SETsquared Exeter Discovery Room series is part of the University of Exeter Enterprise Zone (UEEZ) project. The project and its activities are part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The UEEZ project aims to improve the opportunities for innovative STEMM, Devon-based start-ups and SMEs that have the aspiration and potential to achieve high growth and to accelerate their development through the provision of expert business support.
To learn more about the how SETsquared is enabling business growth and long term success please visit: UEEZ Project | SETsquared (exeter.ac.uk)
For more information on Real Ideas and their vision to create a fairer world through the empowering nature of social enterprise please visit: Plymouth | Real Ideas Organisation - Real Ideas Organisation
Real Ideas said: “We are delighted by the levels of interest people have already shown in the dome and the potential it has for experimentation and innovation. Save the date in your diaries for the upcoming Immersive Futures conference on the 30 June at the Market Hall, where we will discuss all things immersive including ways to find investment. On the 7 July 2022, you can also explore a digital version of Bill Mitchell’s extraordinary physical attic - https://realideas.org/whats-on/bills-attic-experiential-archive-launch-event/”