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Next generation tech-enabled experiences expose the benefits of 5G to UK tourism

Posted 18 Mar 2019

5G Smart Futures demonstrates the latest immersive content enabled by connected technologies that will open the UK’s tourism and heritage sectors to wider audiences and business opportunities.

Digital Catapult provides a window into the future of the UK’s tourism and heritage sector with highlights of the 5G Smart Futures showcase.

The event features technical elements from the 5G Smart Futures showcase in Bristol, taking place on 16 March, marking the culmination of a year-long project bringing together experts to trial new 5G technology and infrastructure in the West of England.

Developed by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), the 5G Smart Futures showcase demonstrates the potential of next generation technologies to augment and extend the reach of outstanding immersive cultural experiences in the West of England, including the Roman Baths and Bristol Pride Day and Harbour Festival.

The experiences are enabled by 5G, virtual and augmented reality, 360° video and locative media, showcasing the technologies’ potential to investors, visitor attractions and cultural experiences.

Those projects being demonstrated at the 5G Smart Futures Showcase include:

  • BBC R&D – brings the Roman Baths to life through augmented reality and high bandwidth network technologies. Combined with an app developed with Aardman Animation, BBC R&D use Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) content to bring three periods of the Bath’s rich history to life; beginning with the mythical discovery of the hot springs by King Bladud, through disrepair and final renovation during the Victorian Era.
  • Mativision – centring on Bristol Pride Day and Harbour Festival, Mativision allows multiple users to experience shared content in sync, demonstrating how 5G can overcome current barriers such as delay through latency. Through a simultaneous, 360° VR experience, audiences will be immersed in the vibrant environments of Bristol Pride parade and Harbour Festival events, savouring the sights and sounds of two of the most important days in Bristol’s festival calendar.
  • Mo-Sys – uses the latest tracking technology and augmented reality to put new life into the landing gear of the Airbus A430-200 aircraft. Audiences can get up close and personal and view the entirety of the airplane, fully immersing themselves in a photorealistic virtual world.
  • Smartify – provides instant information about artworks on show in public galleries across the world. Through the app, audiences can delve deeper into the exhibits and receive bonus content like audio stories and videos.
  • Landmrk – provides an interactive, 360 video-guided tour around Bristol that rewards users with compelling content experiences.
  • University of Bristol Smart Internet Lab – provides a perfectly synchronised cultural experience for differently located audiences in the UK using 5G technologies deployed and managed across all locations. 5G provides the connectivity and latency required for audiences and part of the experience itself to feel in the same natural space, despite being in different places.
  • Zeetta Networks, Bristol is Open, IBI, Bristol City Council and University of Bristol – will demonstrate the benefits 5G technologies can provide to large outdoor public gatherings, like festivals, in helping to enhance planning, management and incident response.

The showcase marks the culmination of a year-long 5G technology and infrastructure project by bringing together companies and academia working to demonstrate the significant business opportunities presented by 5G and its application to UK tourism.

Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, says: “5G will open doors to growth opportunities for business in all sectors across the UK. It’s invaluable to see how some of the UK’s most important cultural experiences and heritage sites can be enhanced and opened-up to more audiences through 5G. It’s been a privilege to support the companies in their product innovation journey and rewarding to look back on the novel business models that have been realised by the project.”

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, who is also attending the London event, says: “I’m really pleased to see technical elements from the 5G Smart Futures showcase in Bristol being highlighted. The West of England is well placed to become a smart region – we are already recognised as a centre of excellence, as home to the largest cluster of digital expertise outside London. We are leading the way in technology and our businesses and universities are at the forefront of innovation in next-generation networks, including 5G. We are ambitious to help support a commercial roll out of 5G infrastructure in the West of England and we see 5G as having a role in helping us address mobility across the region and in helping with digital inclusion.”

The 5G Smart Tourism project is led by the West of England Combined Authority and funded by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It brings together 19 organisations and will see the development of a testbed to demonstrate 5G capability, establishing the West of England as a world-leader in the development of advanced fixed and mobile communication systems.





This diverse collaboration includes 5G network hosts/research bodies (University of Bristol), service providers (Zeetta, CCS, Inter Digital and Bristol is Open) tourism and business support organisations (Destination Bristol), visitor destinations, tech hubs (Digital Catapult and Bristol VR Lab), SMEs and large businesses (BT, IBI Group, Smartify, Mativision, Landmrk, Bristol Futures Global and Mo-Sys), media and content companies (BBC) and public sector partners (West of England Combined Authority, Bath & North East Somerset Council and Bristol City Council).

About Digital Catapult

Digital Catapult is the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation Centre, driving early adoption of technologies to make UK businesses more competitive and productive to grow the country’s economy.

We connect large established companies, startup and scaleup businesses and researchers working with artificial intelligence, immersive technologies, and future networks to discover new ways to solve big challenges in the manufacturing and creative industries. Through this collaboration businesses are supported to develop the right technologies to solve problems, increase productivity and open up new markets faster.

As well as breaking down barriers to technology adoption for startups and scaleups, our work de-risks innovation for large enterprises and uncovers new commercial applications in the advanced digital technologies that underpin a modern industrial economy. / @digicatapult