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Cutting-edge technology will bring history to life at iconic Brighton Dome

Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival (BDBF), one of the UK’s leading arts organisations, have joined forces to launch Heritage XR, a cohort of three pioneering immersive experiences inspired by the history and heritage of Brighton Dome’s Corn Exchange.

The three cohort companies will recount the history of the Grade I listed Corn Exchange using advanced digital technologies including augmented reality (AR), ambisonic sound and 5G to create bespoke interactive experiences that will enable audiences to explore and engage with the venue’s rich heritage stories. Originally constructed as the Prince Regent’s Riding House and part of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate, the Corn Exchange boasts a rich and varied history including serving as a hospital during World War I and playing a key role during Brighton’s suffragette movement. The resulting virtual experiences will provide visitors with the opportunity to immerse themselves in Brighton Dome’s rich architectural and social history.

The FutureScope Heritage XR programme, also supported by Wired Sussex, is a 16-week initiative designed to drive ideas and innovation utilising 5G and immersive experiences within the UK heritage sector.

Through its collaboration with Digital Catapult, BDBF is swiftly emerging as a leader in the intersection of technology, arts, heritage and culture. The Brighton Dome venue previously hosted 5G Festival, a world first, and is the only cultural venue in the UK hosting a 5G testbed. Together, these projects are leading examples of the partners’ drive to adopt the latest technologies and support long term economic growth in the UK’s world-leading arts and entertainment industries.

Brighton-based Immersive Networks Collective Ltd is one of the successful companies working alongside Digital Catapult and BDBF. Already renowned for its pioneering storytelling and BAFTA nominated team, the company combines machine learning (ML) and big data analytics to transform complex information into interactive narratives, tailoring artwork to the venue in which it can be found and recreating the past.

Joining them in the cohort are OmBeond and SENSEcity. OmBeond is an award-winning production studio that combines well-being, multi-sensory design and immersive technology to build cutting-edge immersive experiences. Creating interactive walking experiences, SENSEcity uses dynamic augmented reality (AR) technology to create immersive walking tours, having already launched an app in Glasgow city centre.

Jessica Driscoll, Director of Immersive Technology at Digital Catapult, said: “Technology is bringing the arts, culture and heritage sector into an exciting new era. We’ve worked with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival for a number of years on truly groundbreaking technology programmes, and we couldn’t think of a better place to demonstrate why immersive experiences offer a fresh perspective for engaging new and existing audiences in novel ways.”

“Not only do these multisensory experiences bring history back to life, but they tell stories that appeal to and resonate with all ages, effectively combining education with entertainment. I’m excited to see this project progress, and hope to see more venues follow in BDBF’s footsteps, to accelerate a transformation of the UK heritage sector.’

Commenting on the programme, Tanya Peters, Director of Programming and Participation, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: “As a live performance venue, Brighton Dome aspires to deliver contemporary angles on the interpretation of these amazing buildings, both the world famous and those stories previously hidden until now. We are enormously grateful to all the amazing companies who applied to take part in this programme and are particularly excited by the inclusive approach these three companies are taking as they start this intensive 4-month programme. The cohort is working across a range of ‘next-level’ ideas and we can’t wait to see our audiences immerse themselves in the showcase experiences this July.”

After a period of intense development, these creative immersive experiences will be showcased at Brighton Dome in July 2023.