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Centre for innovation in XR technology opens in Portsmouth

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The University of Portsmouth’s new £7m ‘Centre for Creative and Immersive Extended Reality’ (CCIXR) officially opened today (Wednesday 4 May) – the first such facility in the UK.

The CCIXR is the UK’s first purpose-built facility to bring together a whole suite of the very latest ‘eXtended Reality’ (XR) technologies under one roof to support innovation in virtual, augmented and extended realities.

The centre will offer cutting-edge XR training, research and development, with the aim of addressing a critical skills shortage in these areas of industry and supporting the creation of high-value jobs regionally, nationally and beyond.

CCIXR will also work with businesses and organisations to improve understanding of, and widen access to, XR and its potential across a wide range of applications, from simulators, training tools and immersive visitor attractions, to the metaverse and art and performance.

CCIXR experts have already worked with organisations including the Royal Navy and the Royal Shakespeare Company and have supported over 100 others with information and training in XR technologies through the ‘Enabling XR Enterprise’ (eXRe) project, funded by the government’s £220m UK Community Renewal Fund.

CCIXR's Virtual Production and Mixed Reality Studio has seats for multiple students

Image credit: University of Portsmouth

The university partnered with industry-leading companies to ensure that CCIXR is equipped with the latest XR technology across its facilities. Available technology includes:

  • Motion capture (MoCap) studio
  • Smart stage and full virtual production and mixed-reality studio
  • Photogrammetry and scanning studio
  • Volumetric video studio
  • XR studio
  • Music technology and sound studios (including Dolby Atmos)
  • Projection mapping
  • Spatial computing lab
  • Game development
  • Digital coding development spaces
  • Meeting and conferencing facilities

The CCIXR was funded by investment from the university and £3.6m from Solent LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership).

Professor Graham Galbraith, vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, said: “This is a world-leading facility that places us at the forefront of innovation in virtual and extended reality, which will be at the heart of the next generation of digital technologies that will transform future work and leisure activities.

“This is an excellent example of how, as a global university, our work with regional partners including Solent LEP, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, and the Solent Freeport puts the university at the heart of our region’s growth and development.”

CCIXR has a full Virtual Production and Mixed Reality Studio powered by Whitelight Smartstage technology

Image credit: University of Portsmouth

Professor Trevor Keeble, dean of the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, said: “CCIXR has been established to bring innovation, research and development in the creative technologies of virtual, augmented and mixed reality to a range of different industrial and commercial sectors.

“Our well-established reputation for industry collaboration allows us to develop the creative application of cutting-edge digital innovation and the highly skilled graduate workforce that our future economy will need.”

Rachael Randall, chair of the Solent LEP, said: “The creative sector is a significant contributor to both the national and local economy, and, in support of this, the Solent LEP has invested £3.6m through the Local Growth Deal in this new state-of-the-art centre which will support businesses, create jobs and provide facilities for new learners.

“With its focus on digital skills and technology, the Centre for Creative and Immersive eXtended Reality will ensure our region is at the centre of this exciting and emerging immersive industry – a clear signal that the Solent is home to a world-class talent base and one where the creative industries can grow and thrive.”

The Photogrammetry & Scanning Studio includes a custom-designed full-body scanning rig with 144 x Canon EOS RP Cameras

Image credit: University of Portsmouth

The CCIXR includes a state-of-the-art Performance Capture Stage, developed after 15 years of using motion capture for teaching and commercial work. The stage features the latest in Vicon optical tracking and XSENS inertial tracking, in combination with Dynamixyz facial tracking, and is capable of full performance capture for up to four actors (including finger and facial capture), body and finger capture for up to eight actors, with a video reference camera and audio recording.

There is also a photogrammetry and scanning studio, with a custom design full-body scanning rig, and a full virtual production and mixed-reality studio powered by Whitelight Smartstage technology, enabling the development of the latest techniques for ICVFX, XR Television broadcast and next-generation conference presentation.

Other technologies available at the CCIXR include projection mapping, a volumetric video studio with a 4D Views Holosys system, high-end computing workstations, multiple motion platforms, haptic devices and VR headsets, tools for spatial audio research, tools for location-based VR and gaming development, and high-end meeting and conferencing facilities.

Full information about the University of Portsmouth’s CCIXR is available online.

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This Post was originally published on E&T

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