June saw the University of Portsmouth host two major XR related events; our first XR Immersive Experiences Engagement Day, and a showcase one of our latest VR projects -Fatherland.

XR Immersive Experiences Engagement Day

Tuesday 19th June saw the University open its doors to a wide range of industry professionals for our first ever XR Immersive Experiences Day. The day, delivered as part of our Future and Emerging Technologies Theme, saw over 100 guests enjoy demonstrations of cutting-edge XR technology from external companies, including Samsung, and meet with representatives from local businesses, including Game Over, Altaire, and Portsmouth Guildhall.

Early stage AI in performance
This robot represents the early stages of AI in performance. Image credit A Doyle

Bringing the day under the banner of the Future and Emerging Technologies theme created an environment for a diverse range of academic talks, with contributions from the Faculties of Creative and Cultural Industries, Technology, Science, and Humanities and Social Sciences. Topics included: Forensic Futures: using 3D technology to achieve justice by Dr Katherine Brown, Senior Lecturer with the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies; Virtual Rehabilitation and Phantom Limb Pain by Creative Technologies PhD student Dion Willis; Mobile eye-tracking technology: from expertise in sport to everyday applications by Lecturer Dr Matt Dicks of the Department of Sport and Exercise Science, and; A Stroll in the Cosmos: a virtual walk in the real Universe by Dr Violeta Gonzalez-Perez, Research Fellow with the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation.

A networking lunch was followed by a fantastic demonstration session for hands-on ‘play-time’ with VR Cirque du Soleil experience, experiencing the cosmos with google cardboard, and Makeba, a robot used in dance performance.

Samsung VR diplay
Samsung UK showcased their latest VR headsets. Image credit: A Doyle


On 22nd June, industry partners and key University staff were invited to a special showcase of one of the University’s most recent VR projects – Fatherland:

Fatherland uses real-time motion capture, virtual reality and audience participation to create a ground-breaking, live theatrical experience exploring the theme of disembodiment in the modern world.

Laura Doye, Lecturer in the School of Media and Performing Arts here at the University of Portsmouth, is the Executive Producer of Fatherland. She explained, “A recent government paper published in March 2018 was entitled ‘Culture is digital’. With Fatherland we have been able to respond to that announcement and bring a proof of concept to the theatre world that responds to that responds to that paper. arts and technologists have collaborated, found common languages and produced an amalgamation of Motion capture and live performance.” Laura went on to say,

Fatherland has enabled the University to build contacts within the cultural industries, helping to gain recognition from leading organisations in the sector. We look forward to the next stage of development.
Fatherland 22nd June
Fatherland rehearsals. Credit: Benjamin Mosse

Alex Counsell, Technical Producer for Fatherland and Faculty Technical Adviser for the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, said, “The showing of Fatherland on Friday the 22nd June was incredibly important on many levels; It allowed us to place the piece in a real theatre environment for the first time, giving Ben and Juan the opportunity to experiment with theatrical lighting and a true performance space. This also allowed us to test the limits of the current VR technology we are using with the space and lighting conditions – to which it performed better than expected, and this is very promising moving forward given that the new technology we intend to use is even more capable. It was great exposure for the project to be seen by members of staff from the University external theatre companies, plus industry tech partners such as IKinema (one of our sponsors) Vicon & The Imaginarium.

Fatherland rehearsals
Fatherland rehearsals. Credit: Benjamin Mosse

“The feedback we received from everyone was amazing and this is incredibly reassuring for the next stage. It was also a great opportunity to see and work closely with Ben and Juan, given the fact that we have not seen them in 3 months, so it was a really nice way to see each other and celebrate the work we have produced in readiness for this next incredible stage.”

Fatherland has been funded and supported by Arts Council England, Creative XR and The National Theatre. Digital Catapult and Arts Council England have announced that Fatherland is one of five VR and augmented reality (AR) projects that will receive a total of £350,000 in funding as part of the CreativeXR programme.

To find out more about collaborative XR projects at the University of Portsmouth, contact Research and Innovation Services at researchandinnovation@port.ac.uk.

You can find out more about our motion capture facilities and services at http://mocap.port.ac.uk/