Weavr R&D Wrap-up
Researchers from Digital Creativity Labs have helped to develop the next generation of immersive experiences for fans of esports as part of the Weavr R&D project.
The UKRI-funded demonstrator project, which culminated at the end of September 2021, brought together the world’s largest esports company, ESL, with the University of York and five UK companies from immersive technology, data-driven content production and broadcasting.
Over the last two and a half years, researchers have provided rich insights into how esports audiences engage in immersive experiences, blending advanced research in AI and data analytics with state of the art technology to present spectators with high-fidelity statistics, visualisations, and hyper-personalised viewing experiences.
Weavr technology is presented via the Weavr mobile companion app, Twitch extension and virtual reality broadcasting.
In the period between January 2019 and November 2020, Weavr technology featured at 6 major international and 2 national esports tournaments, reaching over 2.1m viewers across all touchpoints.
Throughout the project, researchers assessed Weavr technology with fans on site, and with commentators, pundits and analysts, gathering extensive feedback to feed into the development cycle.
In parallel, novel research arising from the project has been published at conferences and in journals across academia and industry. Many of the studies undertaken by the research team focused on previously unexplored areas including how audiences interact with data-driven experiences, and in-game forecasting at professional level.
The R&D team also pioneered new approaches to augment the spectator experience including a model that can reliably predict a player death event to a high degree of accuracy within a 5-second window.
When COVID-19 put an end to physical esports tournaments, the consortium members overcame restrictions arising from the pandemic to transform the University’s immersive 3Sixty room into an agile, virtual production environment in which to assess and refine their R&D outputs.
In summer 2021, the university launched the operation as 3Sixty Esports Studios in partnership with Promod Esports. The studio integrates Promod Esport’s advanced virtual production technologies and serves as a cutting-edge R&D space, a teaching facility, and a commercial studio for esports production.
The Weavr R&D project has provided rich insights into how audiences engage in immersive experiences and has demonstrated pathways to future commercialisation.