London for immersive technologies

A woman wearing a virtual reality headset with one hand up in the air, focusing on the movements of her fingers.
From groundbreaking developments in surgical training to being at the forefront of developments in edtech, London is a world-leader for immersive technologies.

Here are five ways in which virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are shaping the future.

1. Excellent investment opportunities

London is the European leader for VC funding into immersive companies, with £762m invested between 2015 and 2019.[1]London-based Poplar, an AR creative platform, has raised $2.1m in 2020 to meet the demand for premium interactive AR and 3D experiences.[2]

2. An integrated ecosystem

Bodies such as Immerse UK promote cross-sector engagement by bridging the gap between VR/AR companies. This not-for-profit, self-sustaining network has a growing community of members.

The Digital Catapult is the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre thanks to its world-class accelerator programmes. Augmentor has helped early-stage businesses raise more than £3.5m since 2017 and CreativeXR provides creative teams with £20,000 in prototype funding.

One of the main reasons for selecting London was the fact that the talent is here. People want to be here – it's a place where people come from across Europe to work.
Chris Scattergood
Founder, FundamentalVR

3. Consumers of the future

AR is predicted to add £1.3bn to UK GDP by 2030.[3]Global brands, such as Adidas, Samsung and L’Oreal come to London to work with the likes of Pebbles Studio, who specialise in 360-degree VR, experimental advertising, AR experiences and 3D animation.

The use of immersive technology in ecommerce and websites has lead to greater customer engagement. Digital twins are digital replicas of potential and actual assets (think a store, venue or oil rig) and they are used to run simulations before actual devices or processes are implemented, reducing the risk of errors. This is ideal for training in high risk environments, but also for event organisers as they can simulate how an event will be run end-to-end and organise people flows and data tracking.

4. Top talent

From UCL’s Immersive Displays Lab to Ravensbourne University’s leading curriculum on mixed reality and augmented reality, London’s universities are meeting the demand for talent.  

World-class immersive training is also provided by StoryFutures Academy – a unique collaboration between the National Film and Television School (NFTS) and Royal Holloway.[4]Its mentoring scheme is run by ILMxLAB – Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment studio.

5. Forward-thinking innovations

Brain surgeons at St Bartholomew’s Hospital have launched project Brainbook, a library of 360-degree VR films of brain surgery, while Immersive Rehab is creating VR environments and games to improve the effectiveness of physical rehabilitation.[5]

And for fashion enthusiasts, London-based ASOS is using AR powered digital fittings to help it showcase new items while photographers and models are working remotely.[6]

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