Published 10 January 2019

DC Labs and University of York announced as major stakeholder in £5.8m R&D project on immersive audience experiences in esports

A total of £18 million UK government and industry funding has been awarded to projects developing the next generation of immersive experiences. The Sports Entertainment Demonstrator was awarded to the Weavr Consortium, headed by Dr. Florian Block of Digital Creativity Labs, University of York. The consortium, which includes esports giants ESL, dock10, Cybula, Focal Point VR and Rewind, will operate a £5.8m project over two years with a focus on esports broadcasting, £4m of which is funded by UK Research and Innovation. Using virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, the projects will create cutting-edge immersive experiences which will be tested at scale on real audiences.

The Weavr project will create cross-reality viewing experiences, allowing fans to immerse themselves in high fidelity statistics, visualisations and data-driven stories to give them deep insights into the live match. Last year, over 2.6 billion hours of esports content was consumed globally across a multitude of online platforms, including Twitch, Youtube, Mixer, Facebook and Twitter. The esports audience is seen as the ‘audience of the future’ with 80% of the demographic made up of 18-35 year olds.

The use of AI & data learning to create highly personalised viewing experiences will allow for fully interactive and individualised insights for the audience. DC Labs at the University of York will bring their expertise in UX design via Dr. Florian Block, machine learning via Prof. Anders Drachen, Human Computer Interaction via Dr. Jon Hook and Dr. Ben Kirman, and Interactive Media via Prof. Marian Ursu. Dr. Block says: "We are excited about the opportunity to take our research and innovation on data-driven storytelling and game analytics to an audience that numbers in the hundreds of millions. Weavr will open up a completely new range of research opportunities for analytics and AI in games and we are extremely excited to be leading along such an exciting lineup of consortium partners."

As part of the two year demonstrator, the consortium will create a total of 45 tech-focused jobs. It will demonstrate insight into how audiences of the future engage in immersive experiences and form the pathways to future commercialisation.

The full press releases can be found here (WEAVR) and here (UKRI).