VR and AR development: Coventry uni wins immersive tech funding

Coventry University in the UK has received £50,000 in funding to help drive research and development in immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality.

The funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will go to the Coventry and Warwickshire Creative Futures (CWCF) – a partnership between Coventry University and the University of Warwick, which wants to make the region a hub for these technologies.

‘Immersive’ refers to the technology’s capacity to recreate physical spaces and environments in digital simulations. Significant developments in this sector have been made within the automotive, manufacturing, and gaming industries, while retailers such as Ikea, John Lewis, and Adidas have either used the tech on mobile apps or in stores.

CWCF’s seed funding comes specifically from the Strength in Places Fund, provided by UKRI. A further funding submission will be made in November, when the project is expected to have advanced.

The aim of the partnership is to create collaborations between the universities and local business partners, with Coventry and Warwickshire already home to games studios such as Ubisoft and Playground Games, as well as over 3,000 businesses working on cross-sector development of immersive technology.

Professor Neil Forbes, associate dean at the Faculty of Arts & Humanities within Coventry University, which will lead the project, said the funding “recognises the enormous potential across the city and region to build on existing research and innovation expertise in immersive technology”.

Professor Jonothan Neelands, academic director for cultural partnerships at the University of Warwick, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Coventry and Warwickshire to become world leaders in immersive tech.”

In May, Asos ramped up its use of AR technology to provide a simulated view of around 500 product lines. The move – an extension of an already-in-motion initiative alongside tech company Zeekit – was partly made to remove the need for models to enter the Asos studios during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.