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Ever since the days when people sat around fires telling stories, us humans have loved shared storytelling. With advances in immersive technology, storytelling is becoming an even more exciting experience.

VR and AR technologies are often considered to be solitary activities with the image of someone sitting alone with a headset playing video games the first coming to mind.

However, augmented and virtual reality can be a shared experience, encouraging connection and learning for all sorts of industries.

Here we’ve focused on some of the projects that are turning VR and AR into a collective experience;

Making Theatre More Accessible

The Royal Shakespeare company is teaming up with a whole host of organisations from industries as diverse as gaming, music and technology to create a new virtual theatre experience.

The plan is to stream live theatrical performances to mobile devices and XR headsets around the country. This technology could be used in schools to increase the accessibility of theatre and inspire younger audiences to get involved.

A Collective Gaming Experience

While gaming has a reputation for being a solitary pastime, the world of esports is in fact a growing community of like-minded gaming fans.

The esports content producer ESL is developing a new platform to allow esports fans the chance to become more immersed in live matches. Through AI, data and VR technologies, ESL hope to transport viewers into the game with live statistics and visualisations. This interactive element makes gaming a more shared, social experience for fans.

Learning Together: VR at the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum and Science Museum are joining forces with the digital producers Factory 42 to develop a virtual way of exploring the museum collections.

Families and friends can discover ancient fossils and rare artefacts from home via VR headsets and controllers and even get a personal tour of the museum from David Attenborough himself!

This technology is also being trialled to make shopping more accessible by creating virtual shopping experiences to be accessed from home.

Learning gets a digital makeover, with immersive technologies transforming lessons into virtual experiences that engage, inspire and inform.

The Future of Storytelling

These projects have all been part of the Audience of the Future Challenge, a government scheme injecting £33 million into creative technology advancement in the UK.

The challenge consists of three phases;

  • A demonstrator stage to test new projects on audiences
  • A research and development stage
  • A new centre for excellence to be a hub for research and the setting for immersive events, workshops and labs

According to Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries; "The UK is home to some of the world's leading digital and creative talent. Through our modern Industrial Strategy and multi-million-pound creative industries sector deal, we are bringing them together to give audiences a truly unique experience.”

What is Shared VR?

Shared VR does away with the headsets to created shared immersive experiences. Specially cultivated spaces or pods allow participants to sit together and enjoy a 360-degree virtual experience. This is great for team bonding, educational experiences or simply having fun with friends. It also means advancements in technology don’t have to spell the end of collective social experience.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK are the organisation behind the running of the Audience of the Future Challenge. Part of UK Research and Innovation, Innovate UK are committed to supporting the development of new technologies in the UK.

To see more projects they’ve helped get off the ground, subscribe to the Innovate UK YouTube channel and get inspired.


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