The Centre for Creative and Immersive Extended Reality (CCIXR) is the UK’s first integrated facility to support innovation in the creative and digital technologies of virtual, augmented and extended realities.
Funded by £5.2 million investment – including £3.6 million from Solent LEP – CCIXR will deliver immersive and creative extended reality (XR) facilities which enable, support and grow the significant Digital Creative Industries sector. Through innovation and the application of XR technology, CCIXR will support economic growth and enhanced productivity in a variety of sectors locally, nationally and globally.
Building on the University's recognised expertise and excellence in digital innovation and the application of emerging technologies to different markets, CCIXR will provide a specialist focus for innovation for a range of industries, consolidating and enhancing the strength of the creative, digital and cultural sectors in the Solent region.
CCIXR will also enable students in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries to explore next-generation XR facilities, and to discover how the immersive pipeline works by helping make virtual and immersive worlds come to life, with an enormous range of applications.
Immersive technologies will play a part in nearly all courses in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, particularly BSc Virtual and Augmented Reality, BSc Computer Animation and Visual Effects, BSc Computer Games Technology, BSc Computer Games Enterprise, BA or BSc Creative Computing, BA or BSc Music Technology, and MSc Creative Technologies.
CCIXR lowers the barrier to entry for businesses who are looking to understand what immersive XR is. It also exists to better show what XR can do for a business – and give organisations access to world-leading facilities that would other be out of their reach, or require significant budgets.
There is a critical shortage of digital skills – which CCIXR will address from a student and industrial perspective – providing access to facilities and technologies, and allowing students to enter the workplace with the skills industry needs in these cutting edge technologies.
Early adoption of nascent XR is already transforming priority sectors, and market analysis demonstrates significant and sustained economic opportunity for its application. CCIXR supports the development and adoption of digital and creative technologies into other priority sectors, expanding and developing the creative/digital sector of the region.
And by building on our excellent reputation and record for graduate employability and employment, CCIXR aims to create a step-change in skills training and development, which will in turn support the creation of high-value jobs within the region, and beyond.
CCIXR will increase the Solent’s prosperity by delivering the following aims
- Pioneering innovation and research
- Developing skills and talent
- SME growth
- Improved productivity in priority sectors
- Employment growth
The UK has a world leading digital economy, is 5th in the global innovation index and currently exports £18 billion in cultural exports. Most recent DCMS data shows the increasing strength of the UK Creative Industries, Digital and Cultural Sectors. Since 2010, Creative Industries in the UK has expanded by over 53%, the Digital Sector by 33% and the Cultural Sector by 38.5%.
The digital technologies of visual and spatial computing develop at considerable pace – and the rapidly emergent and integrated fields of ‘eXtended Reality’ (XR) have yet to fully consolidate in institutional, sector and regional terms. CCIXR aims to capitalise on our longstanding and pioneering research and innovation within these fields, to make Portsmouth and the Solent region a centre of excellence for R&D, innovation and business development for eXtended Reality through visual and spatial computing in the UK. Through CCIXR, our students will have the opportunity to work alongside cross-sectoral industry partners using XR technologies to address real world industry problems.
CCIXR aims to have a significant impact on the productivity of the existing industrial base and other industry sectors such as marine, defence, medical and aerospace that employ creative digital disciplines in their own research and development – and CCIXR will have significant potential to help increase the region’s economy to £50 billion by 2050.
Our recent projects
We are leading on a new project that will use eXtended Reality technology to help boost the city’s visitor and cultural economy. The project sees the creation of innovative XR projects at each of six partner organisations to increase visitor numbers and to inspire and excite.
In March 2021 Dream was experienced live, from Portsmouth, by 70,000 people over 10 performances in 151 countries. This groundbreaking production explored the future of live technology by reimagining Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, challenge and change how live performance can be experienced when it is no longer being bound by physical location. Utilising CCIXR motion capture technology, computing power and expertise, Dream allowed users to enter the unreal world of the forest, and meet the avatars of Puck, Moth, Mustardseed, Peaseblossom and Cobweb performed by actors whose movements and facial expressions are rendered onto the characters in real time through motion capture and facial rigging technology.
CCIXR collaborated with the international street artist My Dog Sighs to create an immersive soundscape for his first immersive exhibition inside a deserted casino. The team also utilised photogrammetry, lidar scanning and Creaform scanners in order to create a 360 degree VR visualisation of the space to preserve it for future outreach and dissemination.
Featuring projections on buildings, huge painted murals, large-scale light installations, dance performances, a light parade, and more, CCIXR was a partner and collaborator for the first-ever immersive light Festival in Portsmouth, bringing together a wide range of artist’s work.
In advance of the event CCIXR provided workshops for local artists to learn how to create digital projections, with many of these being utilised during the event. CCIXR also created apps, audio trails, and facilitated Thomas Buckley’s light installation of butterflies, which was co-created with the young people of Portsmouth. Children drew their hopes and dreams in the wings of butterflies, which were then animated and brought to life on the side of a building in central Portsmouth.
CCIXR also enabled visually-impaired artist Clarke Reynolds to bring his immersive installation “Too See Stars” to life, and hosted this exhibit within the Eldon Building - welcoming thousands of members of the public into the space to experience the technology and art for themselves.
Outreach - EGX, GamesFest and many more
CCIXR technologies have been fully utilised in order to engage young people, and the local community with the possibilities that are offered by the technologies. The team have developed and built user-friendly demonstrations that are designed for outreach with accessibility in mind. These have already been showcased at EGX in London (2021) and GamesFest in Portsmouth (2022), engaging with thousands of members of the public. Further outreach, in collaboration with our industry partners is planned for the coming months including Comic Con in May 2022.
Our recent outputs
Virtual Creativity, 9(1-2), pp. 43-61, 2020. DOI: 10.1386/vcr_00004_1, Dr Matt Smith
Collaborative partners: University of Portsmouth, Royal Shakespeare Company, Punchdrunk Global Ltd, Jingo Juice Limited, Philharmonia Limited, Manchester International Festival, Intel, Magic Leap Inc, Epic Games, Nesta, Goldsmiths University of London, De Montfort University, TheSpace, Phi Centre
Novatech, Royal Navy and University of Portsmouth
This third-year undergraduate student project was commissioned by the Royal Navy and Novatech. Its aim was to create a VR simulation tool to support the training for RHIB piloting and navigation. Using a three degrees of freedom (DoF) platform and/or chair the original aim of the project was simply to create a proof of concept. However, these ambitions were significantly surpassed and the project was eventually realised as a full training simulation.
To date, RNR (Royal Navy Reserves) have relied on the right weather and available resources to train their part-time members. These external variables have frustrated training by limiting crucial training required to prepare RNR members for the unpredictable ocean conditions that RHIB coxswains constantly face. This project was able to address this challenge by using a combination of commercially available gaming hardware within training, and has developed into a first-of-its-kind affordable and portable motion simulator. This was developed on a two DoF simulator chair, with a gaming style steering wheel, thruster and Oculus Rift headset.
Following a trial conducted by a Royal Navy coxswain, the motion simulator was deemed a realistic and efficient training sim alternative. However, participant feedback and review led to the development of the simulator from using just a pitch + roll facility, to incorporating heave so as to enhance the reality of the simulated experience. With this addition, the team were able to correctly mimic the ocean’s waves that affect a RHIB in deployment. This VR training tool has been presented at VentureFest South,DSET (Bristol) and in ITECH (Sweden), demonstrating the power of Creative and Immersive technologies within the marine and maritime, and defence sectors.
This is just one outcome of many years of successful partnership with the Royal Navy, and underlines the University’s key role in skills development and talent pipeline in the region.
A Partnership between Worthing Museum, Doye Mosse Productions and University of Portsmouth
Funded by Innovate UK as part of the Audiences of the Future: Design Foundations programme, part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). This project sought to discover how Creative and Immersive XR could be used within a heritage context to design an exhibition which used digital technologies to augment real objects. Faced with the challenge of caretaking often fragile and precious exhibits, museums, galleries and heritage environments are well versed in the need for careful presentation and interpretation of their collections.
Designing Disgust was a proof of concept project that sought to use creative XR technologies to support and enable the story-telling of historical objects which in a contemporary environment and for political or moral reasons, are now viewed as problematic, inappropriate or just plain disgusting. An example of this is a high-style Victorian silk dress which would have entailed the death of over 1300 silkworms in its creation. Using a selection of different Creative and Immersive XR technologies the team created a number of successful proof of concept artefacts, overcoming the perceived challenges associated with exhibition and presentation of these objects.
For this dress, the team created an animated light projection of silkworms cascading down and slowly filling up the dress in order to illustrate and reveal the challenging history that lay behind such an apparently beautiful object and its creation. Audience research shows that the ‘animated’ yet non-invasive augmentation of this object attracted visitor interest and deepened their engagement and understanding of the collection.
Based on the needs evidenced, and in order to create an innovative solution to the problems identified by our industry partners and wider government reports (Digital in Culture, 2018), CCIXR will include:
Motion Capture Studio
Motion Capture is at the core of a large proportion of the CCIXR’s activities, allowing and enabling innovative developments across the Creative Industries and beyond. In addition to Full Body motion capture, the CCIXR Motion Capture Studio will feature facilities for Facial and Hand capture (full performance capture), in real-time using multiple tracking solutions (optical and inertial) to cater for a wide range of performance capture. The large-scale studio will also have a viewing gallery to allow easier communication and collaboration, and will feature optical and inertia based motion capture systems. A variety of tracking solutions are needed for different locations/tasks - and so a balance of passive and active systems will be utilised to ensure maximum flexibility for companies and skills acquisition for our students. The new studio will also explore innovative alternative motion capture solutions, which are only currently available in the USA - including electromagnetic motion capture (Sixense). Exploring these options will add further options to the toolkit of resources which we can make available through CCIXR.
Location Based Experience (LBE) Virtual Reality Development Space
Bringing LBE facilities to the Solent region will increase the ability for UK based companies to develop for this medium, and enable us to develop the talent pipeline within this area. The exponential growth of this medium in the USA highlights the importance of having a flexible space which can be used to develop and test these experiences. Location Based experiences are key to the growth of the XR market, as they enable consumers to experience the content, without the need to invest in expensive headsets - due to their multiplayer style, they also offer a way to share the experience. Our current innovation research in partnership with the RSC is another form of Location Based experience, and this facility will enable us to develop and innovate for the entire experience. This technology will incorporate motion capture (Vicon Origin system or similar), backpack PCs, VR headsets, haptic peripherals, face and hand tracking solutions and development computing. Green screen space can also be incorporated for full mixed-reality tracking.
These facilities will be key to leveraging future funding for research and innovation, enabling the CCIXR to be at the forefront of innovation in this sector. Combining Volumetrics with CCIXR’s photogrammetry and motion capture expertise and facilities will mean that for the first time all of these options can be used in together to achieve ground-breaking results. Establishing volumetric capture facilities in the Solent region would create the UK's first facility outside London. This would be significant addition to the XR sector and talent pipeline and would be extremely significant in leveraging future investment and revenue generation for the CCIXR.
The photogrammetry system is a metal rig, with a large number of cameras fixed at certain points. All of these cameras are synchronised, so that at the push of one button all the cameras take a photo simultaneously. The rig will be calibrated and positioned for detailed facial capture, in addition to an upright person. This will enable full body and facial capture, the resulting digital data can then be utilised across the different disciplines and digital applications. Photogrammetry is now widely used by global industry and, this facility will enable us to train a workforce who have the specialist skills that are needed to develop this in the UK. Photogrammetry is a key central resource that will greatly enhance the graphical capabilities of the CCIXR, and will be a very valuable service to industry particularly for games, film, animation, graphics, architecture and marketing. This specialist service is not currently easily available outside of London, and revenue created through this service would support the sustainability of this facility.
Spatial Computing Lab
Due to our partnership with Magic Leap, we have the expertise and skills to develop the first Spatial Computing Lab in the UK. This unique facility will be key in enabling creation of spatial computing/mixed reality content and research and innovation in this field. LEP involvement will enable the skills development, talent pipeline and further secure this region as a centre of expertise for this emerging technology. This element of CCIXR is particularly time sensitive as we have the opportunity to take first mover advantage and establish market share at an early stage of the technological development. UoP has been given early-access developer status by Magic Leap, and as part of that agreement sustainability of the equipment within this Lab will be ensured, as Magic Leap will ensure that headsets are updated with the latest models.
Digital Coding Development Spaces
Development bays will be created in order to enable XR technology development and production. LEP support will enable CCIXR to have commercial licenses for a proportion of these bays, so that industry collaborators and partners can use these facilities on a short-term project basis. These development bays will be equipped with console development kits, VR headsets and other technologies in order to ensure developments can be fully tested on site.
Sound Studio Facilities
These state-of-the-art facilities will include multiple spaces incorporating mixing desks, spatial audio and binaural sound areas, recording studios, musical computing and synthesis. This will enable sound and vision to be understood within a context of human interaction and creative coding – ensuring that sound remains central within immersive XR. These facilities support and enable the core strengths within the team in relation to music computing and coding, production and engineering, and composition and performance of sound, and are essential in order to enable skills acquisition and development for sounds XR.
Virtual Reality Lab
The VR Lab is designed for multiple applications including simulation and training, healthcare and medical, entertainment and media outputs. It incorporates between 4 and 6 degrees of freedom platforms and chairs, haptic devices, mobile development spaces and a virtual production projection mapping system. This would also include VR chairs, allowing new areas of innovation to be supported.
Simulation facilities will enable a wide range of industry project applications, in purpose built development facilities, which will include state of the art biometric feedback devices, virtual production facilities, healthcare simulation technologies and cutting-edge XR technologies.
Mixed Reality Tech Lab
This will provide next generation light projection and mixed reality projection technology to enable interaction with content in real-time. This will operate as a smart stage cube system, and will be an invaluable resource to organisations wishing to generate interactive content. This technology is essential to the skills and talent pipeline, as our Industry advice highlights the fact that real-time production skills are in great demand. This technology will directly address this need.
Digital Communication Space
Working in partnership with the Universities innovation spaces, these dedicated CCIXR digital communication facilities (with full Immersive presentation facilities) will be bookable by our partners and collaborators. LEP support will enable CCIXR deepen its business support and development offer.
Immersive Production Space
CCIXR will also explore immersion of all types, including 360 degree projection and projection mapping.
If you're interested in working with CCIXR, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.