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ARiVR project receives funding from UK Research and Innovation

By Ned Vaught
22nd Jan 2020
Man on VR computer

A Rocketmakers-led project known as ARiVR has been awarded £750,000 in funding from the UK Research and Innovation programme “Audience of the Future.”

Once completed, the ARiVR platform will allow content creators to dynamically introduce new content into previously-designed virtual environments. This platform will also provide tools to add, update and personalise content using just a web application, without needing to be an immersive developer.

Currently, most content produced for immersive experiences is bundled within the application itself and subsequently delivered via patches and content updates. This hugely limits the speed and affordability for content updates, prohibiting the use of virtual environments as a flexible, dynamic delivery method for personalised content.

ARiVR will allow developers to create flexible objects, which content creators can use to swap in new versions of a similar object. This could allow much more personalisation of design for users, a much easier process for adaptation to local markets, and much more responsiveness to changes in style and fashion.

It all began with a challenge…

ARiVR began a few weeks before the 2017 VR World Congress in Bristol. CEO Richard Godfrey wanted Rocketmakers to exhibit and purchased a stand for the event. All Rocketmakers needed now was something to exhibit!

“It was a bit of a risk, but I had faith in the creativity of my team,” Richard explained. “I told them we were going to be exhibiting and we needed to have something interesting to show the world."

The idea was an early, proof-of-concept version of ARiVR, based on the Spirit City game developed by VR game designers Meteor Pixel. ARiVR objects within the game could be switched to new ones, and the system included a set of dashboards which displayed user data including gaze time, interaction time, and 'heat maps' for each virtual environment.

ARiVR received very positive feedback from VR World Congress attendees, and Richard wanted to develop the system further. When he heard about the Audience of the Future funding Richard was very keen for Rocketmakers to apply.

It simply isn’t possible to get private investment for development of this type in the UK. We considered looking for support from Silicon Valley, but we wanted to keep ARiVR in the UK, and specifically in the Bristol/Bath tech hub. I’m really pleased that UK Research & Innovation made this possible.

Rocketmakers to lead ARiVR team

ARiVR is being designed in partnership with three other companies: Opposable Games, Meteor Pixel, and architecture firm Whiley & Co.

The first phase of the project will create plugins for Unity and Unreal Engine (the two biggest systems for designing immersive content), three demo games including a mobile AR beer-pong game, and other applications to show proof of concept. The phase is on course to be completed by the end of 2020.

The project is funded within the Audience of the Future programme by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund brings together the UK’s world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. It provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the government’s £4.7 billion increase in research and development over the next 4 years. It plays a central role in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. It is run by UK Research and Innovation, which comprises the Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

UK Research and Innovation is a new organisation that brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England into a single organisation to create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish. The vision is to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.