Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality News and Updates – Immersive Storylab
Jan 2018 10

Happy New Year.

Been super busy in the Immersive StoryLab, Manchester School of Art and CAVA over the last few months getting a few exciting projects off the ground. Here’s a few of them that are currently in development for 2018:

Our Mythical Coast : Augmented Reality Storytelling

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Britain’s coastline: 11,072 miles of cliffs, beaches, rocky coves, seaside promenades, and towns and villages; it’s a long, winding path with a vibrant history, capturing our powerful social and cultural connection with the sea. The coast of Britain is part of who we are, and very much a place of national contemplation, reflection and emotion. Coastal communities are saturated with evocative folklore. With stories of tunnel networks, sea caves, piracy, wrecking, slavery, smuggling and mythological creatures and characters. It’s a liminal space not fully explored.

We are currently working on a prototype with a number of partners, supported through the Creative XR content innovation programme from the Digital Catapult and Arts Council England, about a physical experience with this place. Using augmented reality’s capabilities at revealing new story worlds, unearthing hidden secrets and bringing invisible culture to life to enable us to re-encounter the landscape through a new kind of digital reality. Melding together fact and fiction, time and space, past and present this story carries an important message about protecting life in our seas.

If These Walls Could Talk…. Mixed Reality Story Experiences

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A collaboration with the Centre for Architecture and the Visual Arts (CAVA) at University of Liverpool, Culture Liverpool and Draw and Code. For this, we are creating an interactive mixed reality Hololens experience that will take place in the old 19th Century jail cells in the iconic Unesco Heritage building St. Georges Hall. Using cutting edge holographic capture technology to create performances and interactions with characters from the past, this experience will enable visitors to go back in time, to really feel what it was like in a 19th Century prison and justice system.

Digital Placemaking : Speculative Design Research

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Over the coming years, spatial computing and next generation Mixed Reality Immersive Technologies have significant potential to disrupt how we design experiences for place as a hybrid physical-digital encounter. MR enables content to become something that can spatially envelop the user, adding layers to reality that have participatory, interactive and networked capabilities and adding new meaning to the experience of ‘being there’. Combined with the contextualising potential of new forms of spatial computing, powered by artificial intelligence, this means our notions and senses of place are likely to change significantly over the coming years- leading to new kinds of experiences, interactions and connections with the built environment and each other.

But what does this mean for Urban Reality? and how can we design interventions that can help with issues related to place? This project is an exploratory working group of technologists, thinkers, tinkerers, companies and place stakeholders to create some speculations for what we want Urban Digital Reality to be as part of a project developed by the Centre for Architecture and the Visual Arts (CAVA) at University of Liverpool.


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We love the idea of voice as interface, so much so we’ve decided to incorporate it into a few of our projects. We have been experimenting with Google Home to create dynamic and personalised interactions with characters. See a bit of our AI Dynamic Storytelling Experiment here.

Other news

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Well done to Billy White, a graduate of MMU who has recently had his final year ‘Virtual Ride’ project showcased at Innovate UK’s annual gathering. Billy has been working with a number of companies with his idea, good luck to him.


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In collaboration with we’re helping to launch Immersive Liverpool, a group for people interested in Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality things, projects, experiments and networking. The first event takes place on 11th January 2018 at Sensor City in Liverpool City Centre.

Find out more about our Immersive Technology, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality adventures

Research Exploring Mixed Reality & Augmented Reality Storytelling and Digital Placemaking in the City
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I recently began my PhD research journey exploring mixed reality storytelling and digital placemaking in the smart city, as part of an AHRC Funded Collaborative Doctoral Award with McCann Manchester, the Virtual Engineering Centre and the Centre for Architecture and Visual Arts at Liverpool University.

My focus is looking at how immersive media technologies (such as mixed reality (AR/VR), internet of things, locative media, sensors and data) can be used to create imaginative interactions between people and place. My aim is to find ways to conceptualise and develop prototypes to make urban spaces more playful, imaginative & emotive through the use of mixed reality experiences — which will hopefully be useful knowledge for future spacemakers, media artists, placemakers, place hackers and urban designers.

The Practice-based PhD also involves a number of other collaborations within Arts, Culture organisations mainly in Manchester and Liverpool.

Beacons for Science – A Virtual and Augmented Reality App about Science in Manchester
Jul 2016 13

Over the past few months I have been collaborating with a number of partners on the ‘Beacons for Science’ project in Manchester, which is aiming to create an innovative app to experience Science in the City through Augmented and Virtual reality. Using beacon technology to enable people to experience science in new ways as they navigate the city.

My role has been to develop, co-ordinate and help facilitate the co-creation of the virtual reality and augmented story content, produced with the support of a number of cultural partners, artists, scientists and co-creators from around Manchester, and to work with the developers to shape the mixed reality user-experience.

There are a number of innovative features in the app, including virtual reality experiences that are triggered when walking around Manchester as well as interactive augmented reality content that enables users to look beyond the surface of the city. There are about 15 experiences in total that were created as a result of a series of hack labs taking place in Manchester as part of the European City of Science calendar.

These include:

  • a Virtual Reality look at the Urban Bees that live on top of Manchester Art Gallery
  • augmented experiences in a number of the libraries around Manchester including Science Footage from the North West Film Archive and the Portico Library
  • a 360 degree performance about the life of Alan Turing
  • a 360 view from the top of the Hilton Hotel
  • an augmented reality experience on the Manchester #astrotram
  • a virtual reality film of the radio telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory
  • an augmented reality experiment inspired by John Dalton
  • a Brian Cox ‘Coxemon’ avatar hidden around manchester
  • a tour of the Manchester Ship canal
  • #astrotrams – where people can see augmented reality content of the galaxy on a tram that also includes announcements from Professor Brian Cox
  • a virtual statue of RSPB Founder Emily Williamson.

We have also been involved in a series of public engagement events to showcase the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality content across Manchester during the Euroscience Open Forum 2016 Conference, that has brought over 4000 scientists to the city.

Download the app here:

Here’s a short showreel of some of the 360 content and some images from the project:

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Immersive Storylab – Exploring Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Transmedia Filmmaking
May 2016 11

“As connected devices and services continue to develop, filmmakers will be able to place a story layer over the real world. Inanimate objects and physical locations will become an opportunity to extend stories and engage audiences in ways that propel 21st-century storytelling.” Lance Weiler

This project is exploring the possibilities for transmedia, augmented and virtual reality storytelling by creating a number of experimental films that fuse filmmaking, digital environments and creative technologies. I am particularly interested in the way that these immersive environments create new forms of embodiment and can help us to experience geographical space in new ways.

Many people argue that VR can lead to highly empathetic and emotional kinds of storytelling experiences, which could have a number of applications for the social sciences, humanities and the arts. They therefore have really strong potential for storytellers addressing issues related to personal, cultural, social and behavioural change.

Filmmakers and storytellers who are working in this area are also having to rethink the way that they design ‘story architecture’ around non-linear forms of transmedia engagement. It is therefore an inter-disciplinary project that explores a range of areas such as the behavioural and cognitive sciences, user-experience design, immersive performance and transmedia storytelling.

We are currently developing a number of projects, campaigns and teaching initiatives with partners and organisations under this banner, so stay tuned for updates as they develop…

In the meantime, follow the Immersive Storylab on twitter for updates and links to work that we think is really exciting. Or get in touch with me to discuss a project via:  mail (at)


Digital Media BA – a new degree exploring the digital media landscape
Oct 2014 11

I’ve recently been working on the development of a BA (Hons) Degree in Digital Media at Coventry School of Art and Design. It’s a brand new degree exploring media design, storytelling, digital arts and digital culture.

Students will be working on convergent media projects in content production, moving-image, storytelling, speculative design and a number of related areas across the digital arts. Designed for learners who want to be hybrid-media artists, creative professionals and entrepreneurs in the increasing pervasive digital realm.

First year modules will explore digital culture, convergent multimedia production, digital publishing, storytelling and creative technology. The year will culminate in an intensive ‘creative hack lab’ project where students put their problem solving, innovation and design skills to the test with a live brief.

The second year will explore the creative and critical side of the digital arts, along with modules in digital advertising, transmedia storytelling and opportunities to undertake professional experience. There will also be options to develop skills in other areas of media production, including photography, experimental media and short film as well as opportunities to undertake visits with international partner organisations.

The final year will focus on critical digital research methods, exploring how to use creative technologies for research and the creation of new forms of knowledge, products and artistic expression. Students will then use their skills to develop a final research project, aimed at creating cutting-edge experiences and speculative possibilities for the future.

The degree is underpinned by an interdisciplinary approach to the design and analysis of digital culture and media, drawing on a range of methodologies from the digital and media arts, sciences, business and creative computing subject areas. It will be addressing the implications, challenges and possibilities of living in a world of disruptive innovation, peer 2 peer collaboration, connected devices, augmentation, pervasive storytelling, automation, big data and the internet of things and exploring this through projects that challenge and critique it.

Students will be involved in live projects, real industry and cultural briefs and working simulations that are informed by problem-based, activity-led and challenge-based learning methodologies. This will be supported by technology-enhanced learning approaches in a department that is internationally recognised for its innovative approach to learning design.

If you are interested in finding out about the degree please get in touch – you can find me on twitter and linked-in.

To find out more about the digital media research work in the Department of Media please visit the Centre for Disruptive Media website.

Culture Machine Live: Podcast Series
Oct 2013 28

Culture Machine Live is a podcast series dedicated to discussions of culture and theory.

Talks include….

Life After New Media: Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska

Post-Digital Print and Networks of Independent Publishing: Alessandro Ludovico

The Late Age of Print and the Future of Cultural Studies: Ted Striphas

The Politics of Transparency and Secrecy: Mark Fenster

Network Theory and Internet Politics: Geert Lovink

Cultural Criticism and the Digital Humanities: Alan Liu

and many more

Editors: Janneke Adema, Clare Birchall, Gary Hall and Pete Woodbridge.

For more information about the online, open access journal Culture Machine, visit current utc time .

Living Books About Life
Oct 2012 28

Living Books About Life is a series of curated, open access books about life — with life understood both philosophically and biologically — which provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences. Produced by a globally-distributed network of writers and editors, the books in the series repackage existing open access science research by clustering it around selected topics whose unifying theme is life such as air, agriculture, bioethics, cosmetic surgery, electronic waste, energy, neurology and pharmacology.

By creating twenty one ‘living books about life’ in just seven months, the series represents an exciting new model for publishing, in a sustainable, low-cost manner, many more such books in the future. These books can be freely shared with other academic and non-academic institutions and individuals. Taken together, they constitute an engaging interdisciplinary resource for researching and teaching relevant science issues across the humanities, a resource that is capable of enhancing the intellectual and pedagogic experience of working with open access materials.

All the books in the series are themselves ‘living’, in the sense that they are open to ongoing collaborative processes of writing, editing, updating, remixing and commenting by readers. As well as repackaging open access science research — along with interactive maps, visualisations, podcasts and audio-visual material — into a series of books, Living Books About Life is thus engaged in rethinking ‘the book’ itself as a living, collaborative endeavour in the age of open science, open education, open data and e-book readers such as Kindle and the iPad. The book that I worked on, along with Janneke Adema, explored the way that concepts and ideas around the theme of Symbiosis can be applied to a number of areas within the (digital/networked) humanities.

Living Books About Life is a collaboration between Open Humanities Press and three academic institutions: Coventry University, Goldsmiths, University of London, and the University of Kent. Funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), and published by Open Humanities Press (OHP) (  The Editors of the series are Clare Birchall (University of Kent), Gary Hall (Coventry University), Joanna Zylinska (Goldsmiths, University of London). Other members of the project team include Sigi Jőttkandt (Open Humanities Press), David Ottina (Open Humanities Press) and myself (Coventry University).


Picturing the Body Open Course App Launched #PICBOD
Feb 2011 15

Over the past few months I have been working with Jonathan Worth and the Photography Team at Coventry University to develop an iPhone App for a free and open undergraduate course called ‘Picturing the Body’.

The ‘trendsetting’ app has been mentioned by the British Journal of PhotographyPDN Pulse, Times Higher Education and Professional Photographer Magazine. The innovative class, and the innovations associated with it, have been described by one of the teams collaborators as ‘an innovation in photography education’ and by Wired’s Rawfile team as ‘Blowing minds & shifting paradigms in photo education’.

The beta App allows people to engage with the community of practitioners and students who are taking part in the course. Pulling in photographs from Flickr, content from the blog, comments from Twitter as well as a range of photography podcasts from our iTunes U Project.

The intention is to see whether mobile applications can enhance the experience of being involved in the course and to help us to think about future developments in this area as part of our mantra for Open Media at Coventry University. Since the launch of this app, we have been involved in developing a number of innovations for mobile based learning, including the launch of the MediaPRO – Media Production Course App

To download the visit the PICBOD App in the iTunes Store and to find out more about the course please visit the PICBOD website.

(The image at the top and on my homepage – Crash Courtesy of Jonathan Shaw)

The Picbod App was developed as a part of my Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education. You can find the poster presentation of the PICBOD App here. Thanks to all the colleagues, students and other people who were involved in its development.

CU on iTunes U – Open Educational Resource and Platform Project
Jan 2010 05

I initiated and project manag the Coventry University partnership with Apple’s iTunes U, enabling us to significantly raise our international profile through open sharing of teaching and research resources.

At the time of launch in June 2009 we were the 6th UK institution to launch our content through this platform and since its inception it has grown to include over 600 open multimedia resources ranging from lectures to online tutorials.

The site now attracts thousands of visitors every week and now has over 7 million hits (including the other sites where we send the content to) and includes a diverse portfolio of free content from across the University. It also enabled the University to be Highly Commended for ‘Innovation and Creative Thinking Campaign’ at the 2010 HEIST Awards. bank of america site down . As well as paving the way for a number of funded projects in the area of Open Access for the University and the development of further applications and projects.

Prominent collections in this include the Coventry Conversations series, the Photographic Mediations series and the Open Media series

Find out more information about the CU on iTunes U project

Jan 2009 05

I initiated and develop this project, whose aim was to set up an online channel for Coventry University. To date the CUTV channel has had over two million views. It includes a range of videos including lectures, research projects and student work from around Coventry University. browser test tool . It is helped with the support of a number of people around Coventry University including students and staff from the Media Production degree.

The CUTV project is also part of the Youtube Edu global education platform, which includes thousands of free academic videos from YouTube’s educational partners around the world.