20 VR and AR projects given up to £20,000 each by CreativeXR

20 VR and AR projects given up to £20,000 each by CreativeXR

Twenty virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) projects have been given up to £20,000 of funding by CreativeXR, a programme developed by not-for-profit Digital Catapult and Arts Council England, with support from government-backed innovation agency Innovate UK.

CreativeXR is aimed at enabling the UK’s arts and cultural sector to lead the field in immersive content creation and digital innovation. Those behind the programme want to encourage applicants to focus on R&D and develop riskier, content-driven projects that contribute to developing new skills, tools and business opportunities.

In an open call for ideas, CreativeXR received over 1,000 registrations of interest and over 250 applications, but only 20 applicants were successful and have each been offered up to £20,000 of funding to develop their prototype. They will be able to work with industry leaders in workshops to help them with concept development, and they will also have access to Digital Catapult Immersive Labs in London, Brighton, North East Tees Valley and Belfast.

Read more: Digital Catapult selects start-ups to join Machine Intelligence Garage

Creating immersive experiences

Successful applicants include a team working on an immersive experience that explores beauty from autistic perspectives; a team working on a VR experience that allows an audience to physically step into history; a group working on a VR crime thriller solving cold cases throughout British history; and a mixed reality experience that promises to enhance the UK Coastline through story, myth, fantasy and heritage.

One team, called the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, is working on ‘theatrical reality’, which is described as “a magic mirror to unchain theatrical barriers using augmented reality technologies”. Another idea, dubbed Traitor, involves a two-player interactive high stakes thriller, combining VR with live action.

“We want to make it easier for content commissioners to take more risks and explore new forms of storytelling with immersive content,” said Aurelien Simon, head of immersive at Digital Catapult.

“That’s why we’re giving the 20 teams selected the space and funding they need to experiment with their projects, as well as the chance to present their creations to content commissioners at the end of the programme,” he added.

Read more: Upskill’s augmented reality tech makes impact at GE

Final showcase scheduled

The CreativeXR teams will get the opportunity to pitch at a final showcase and market in March 2018, which will be attended by the likes of Google, BBC, Sky, Sony and HTC Vive.

Clive Longbottom, analyst at IT advisory organization Quocirca, suggested that the likes of AR, VR and MR have seen too many false dawns.

“The technology has to move from just being ‘interesting’ to being truly useful. I applaud the idea of the project but I remain sceptical as to whether the expected benefits will be accrued,” he said.

Read more: In headsets battle, augmented reality for business to dominate, says IDC

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Uber’s self-driving cars managed 20,000 miles last week – with a lot of help

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Uber has kept details of its self-driving program rather secretive, compared to the openness of California rival Waymo, the self-driving division inside Alphabet. Sadly for the ride-sharing giant, internal documents have been published by Recode, showing the progress of the program.

The document revealed the number of miles drove autonomously every week, the number of times drivers had to take over, and the number of times they had to avoid serious damage. Uber managed 20,300 miles in the week beginning March 8, 1,700 less than the week before, but over 15,000 more than they were managing at the start of the year.

See Also: #DeleteUber campaign might harm company’s self-driving plans

Uber has added several dozen new cars to the road since the beginning of the year, which is the main reason for the surge in miles driven. It also started its controversial semi-autonomous ride hailing tests in Pennsylvania and Arizona, which are bundled in with fully autonomous tests in the two aforementioned states and California.

Even with the acceleration in autonomous miles driven, Uber drivers are still having to take control of the vehicle a lot, compared to Waymo. The document said that an “intervention” happens once every 0.8 miles, usually due to bad experiences, like jerky control.

The amount of times drivers needed to take over to avoid a harmful event, which includes hitting pedestrians or causing property damage, rose from 115 in the week beginning March 1 to 196 the following week.

Uber has still not managed as many miles as Waymo, which as an independent division and previously as part of Google has completed 1.5 million autonomous miles. The ride-sharing giant is catching up however, adding more cars onto the road at a faster pace than Waymo.

The acceleration of the program may be a rather expensive failure however, if Waymo wins its lawsuit against the company. The search giant has alleged that the head of Uber’s self-driving division, Anthony Levandowski, stole trade secrets from Google while working for the company, and set up self-driving truck startup Otto to sell the secrets onto Uber.

If Google manages to win the lawsuit, it could ask for Uber’s self-driving cars to be taken off the road, effectively ending the program.

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