Animmersion: Heriot-Watt University uses immersive digital technology to tackle disability bias.

simulation of open-plan offices that can cause difficulties for disabled employees’

A major two-and-a-half-year project using immersive technology to improve the recruitment and retention of disabled scientists has been completed by Heriot-Watt University.

Digital visualisation specialists Animmersion have created two engaging and thought-provoking experiences which form a key part of an extensive training programme that aims to change perceptions of academic managers and key stakeholders.

The Interactive experiences are designed to highlight both unintended and blatant bias around the issue of disability within the academic recruitment and decision-making process.

The first activity simulates a job interview involving a disabled candidate that takes place within a dynamic video conferencing scenario, while the second uses virtual reality to recreate the effect of working in a busy, open plan office for someone living with auditory hypersensitivity.

Various levels and types of responses are explored in each thought-provoking scenario to highlight differing levels of discrimination, responses, and actions – giving decision makers an insight into the largely unintended bias encountered by disabled colleagues within the academic sector.

Both immersive experiences form part of the ground-breaking initiative, Disability Inclusive Science Careers (DISC), which aims to improve the recruitment, retention, and progression of postdoctoral disabled scientists.

Heriot Watt University is leading the initiative, supported by the University of Edinburgh, University and Colleges Union Scotland and the National Association of Disabled Staff.

It has carried out extensive research and many of the immersive encounters use the real-life experiences of disabled staff.

The project was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as part of the Inclusion Matters initiative. It funded 11 projects through Inclusion Matters to accelerate culture change in the wider engineering and physical sciences community with respect to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Previous studies funded by EPSRC concluded that disabled researchers are leaving the profession at the postdoctoral research stage due to specific challenges. These included working in shared offices and labs and the attitudes of line managers and supervisors.

The training programme, due to be launched in August, is designed to ensure that the best scientists remain in the sector and to encourage a more inclusive and sustainable career progression.

Programme Lead, Professor Garry Pender, Heriot Watt University’s Deputy Principal for Research and Innovation said: “The experiential element of the training provided through the immersive reality training has enhanced managers understanding of the challenges facing disabled colleagues. I am sure that this will lead to a positive outcome in the design and implementation of suitable adjustments to the working environment for disabled researchers”

Professor Kate Sang, Professor of Gender and Employment Studies, Director of the Centre for Research on Employment Work and the Professions (CREWS) said: “The immersive virtual reality gaming has added a novel dimension to disability inclusion training, which has excited and engaged managers across all the sectors we have delivered the training in. Managers have been able to experience the real-world scenarios experienced by disabled people and learned about how easily some of the barriers can be removed’

Sam Harrison, Managing Director of Teesside-headquartered Animmersion, said: “It’s certainly a novel approach to use immersive gaming technologies to raise awareness of real-life workplace bias experienced by disabled researchers.

“We are experts in transforming academic material and making it engaging and accessible to wider audiences and our team is proud of its contribution to DISC. We hope it represents a leap forward in promoting a greater understanding of issues surrounding disability in academia.”

Animmersion UK creates space for Tees Valley’s freelance community as it relocates Middlesbrough headquarters

(L-R) Nick Ruddock, 3D Realtime Team Lead; Samuel Harrison, Managing Director; and Andy McAdam, 3D Animation Team Lead

Animmersion UK, the Teesside-based digital visualisation specialist, has relocated its Middlesbrough headquarters following a period of sustained growth for the business.

The company recently completed the move within Middlesbrough’s landmark Boho Zone and has announced plans to use part of its new office space to work collaboratively with local freelancers, once the latest national lockdown measures are lifted.

Animmersion is keen to utilise the skills of Tees Valley’s growing digital freelance community and has created a dedicated space for them to come into the office to work in a covid-secure environment on Animmersion projects alongside the company’s team of designers, artists and software engineers.

The new office also includes a new immersive technology area, featuring VR, AR and holographic technology, and a spacious new boardroom and breakout spaces to welcome visitors.

The new studio and demo areas will help drive innovation, with a space designed for bringing teams together to collaborate on solutions, and provide the opportunity for further innovation and product development.

The move represents another significant milestone for Animmersion and will accommodate its plans for accelerated growth.

Samuel Harrison, Managing Director of Animmersion UK, said: “Although we haven’t move far, we are delighted to have relocated to our new office. Being in amongst some of the UK’s most innovative businesses is important to us, that’s why we wanted to remain part of the Boho community.

“Tees Valley boasts some of the very best digital talent and we have an important role to play in nurturing and developing that talent. Providing the facility for the team to collaborate with local freelancers will enable us to grow the business further.”

Animmersion UK embarks on recruitment drive to meet growing demand from client base

Animmersion UK, the Teesside-based digital visualisation specialist, has appointed three new recruits to strengthen its team in response to the growing demand from its client base following a series of new contract awards.

As part of the first phase of its recruitment drive, the company welcomes Dan Johnston, who joins the team as Unity Developer. Dan brings a wealth of expertise in developing VR games for autism therapy, as well as extensive experience in immersive spatial audio systems and sound design for mixed reality applications.

Alongside Dan, recent graduate Jonathan Watt joins the business as Front End Developer. Jonathan, who graduated from Northumbria University this year, gained valuable experience while working on placement with HMRC as a Java Developer, and will utilise the skills learned to bring additional value to the team.

Both Dan and Jonathan join the Animmersion team virtually, after the company invested quickly in essential equipment and technology at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which enabled some of its workforce to continue to work from home, a move which has helped put it in a position to focus on future growth plans.

The final recruit is Hannah Booth, who joins as Business Administrator. Hannah, who has recently completed her Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship with Animmersion, has successfully been accepted on a full time permanent contract, and will support the business administration and finance teams, helping with day to day activities in the office.

Samuel Harrison, Managing Director of Animmersion UK, said “This year has been an incredibly exciting time for the team at Animmersion, demonstrating our ability to attract new people and our commitment to nurturing local talent. The addition of Dan, Jonathan and Hannah is exactly what we need to be able to continue to grow the business and meet the ever increasing demands of clients.

“We actively encourage the team to develop their skills, and we have a number of people studying towards higher education and professional qualifications, which will build on their existing skills and experience.

“In terms of recruitment, we’re not finished yet. We have plans to expand further, and to invest in the very best digital talent, and we are looking for people who are passionate about digital media and immersive technology and are keen to push the state-of-the-art to add to our already successful team.”

Animmersion UK secures new flagship office space to support growth into new markets and adapts to new ways of working

Animmersion UK, the Teesside-based digital visualisation specialist, has secured new office space in Middlesbrough’s landmark Boho Zone, after enjoying a signification surge in interest in their services with clients adapting to new ways of working, in response to coronavirus.

As a result of the pandemic and reacting to its clients’ requirements for immersive digital solutions, Animmersion is also adapting its business and the way its team deliver its technologies.

This has resulted in the need for a more flexible office space, providing the facility for the team to collaborate and work remotely in a new hybrid approach, allowing the business to grow further.

The company, which delivers its range of immersive technologies direct from its studio through a team of experienced designers, artists and software engineers, plans to create a new immersive technology demonstration area, featuring VR, AR and holographic technology, and a spacious new boardroom and break out spaces to welcome visitors.

The move represents another significant milestone for Animmersion and will accommodate its plans for accelerated growth.

The new studio and demo areas will help drive innovation by creating a space where teams can collaborate on solutions with colleagues and provide the opportunity for further expansion into additional markets and services.

Samuel Harrison, Managing Director of Animmersion UK, said “We are excited to relocate to our new office, which is adjacent to our existing office in Boho One.

This move gives us the opportunity to better use the space and to showcase the capabilities of our incredibly talented team. We have so much technology, which is all very visual, and the new demo area and showroom will be ideal platforms to bring our work to life.

“It’s been an incredibly dynamic time in the business, and we’re keen to continue the development of our innovative solutions embracing new ways of working. We have further plans to expand and to invest in the very best local digital talent. Our people are at the heart of what we do and how we work with our clients.”

“As one of the founding members of Tees Valley’s tech sector, it is also important for us to remain part of the Boho community. This new office space keeps us at the heart of the creative cluster alongside some of the UK’s most innovative businesses.”

Events Industry: Responding to COVID19 & Learning to Adapt

The impact of COVD-19 has been drastic across several business sectors including building and running exhibitions and events.

Many stand builders and event organisers are using this opportunity to reflect on current business practices and how digital innovation can play an important role in minimising face to face communication for large scale events but at the same time unlocking new growth areas. Events should continue to focus on communication using technology to their advantage to deliver events beyond COVID-19.

A new research study from Events force shows that ‘45% of organisers have postponed, 27% have cancelled and another 25% are searching for solutions to move their events online’

In light of this, we have adopted an approach that has time and cost-saving benefits for visitors. We are bringing digital innovation technology to stand and expo organisers to provide value-added services through remote collaboration and interaction. We are certainly not saying that face to face interaction will not be happening in the future, but we are saying that digital innovation will be playing a far stronger role.

For over 10 years we have been providing organisations with visuals tools to communicate and enhance their products and services. Our virtual Interactive Events (VIE) has become an expansion and combination of our services to provide a platform to overcome current environmental issues. This extended solution provides stand builders and event organisers with a unique opportunity to broaden their value proposition and to support their clients in a new digital innovation age.

We would love to share more with you about our Virtual Interactive Events If you would like to chat about this platform you can get in touch with our Marketing Coordinator at marketing@animmersion.co.uk.

Animmersion’s VIE Demo

Animmersion secures Innovate UK to enhance development of immersive event technology

Animmersion UK has secured a government grant to support the further development of its Virtual Interactive Events (VIE) service, which is helping organisations overcome the suspension of physical exhibitions and conferences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to manage uncertainty and risk when planning events going forward.

The Middlesbrough-based immersive technology company will utilise the funding to create additional features within its VIE platform, providing companies with custom virtual collaboration and meeting spaces, including exhibitions stands and virtual showrooms.

With the application of its existing proven technologies, including real-time 3D pitching software, online interactive maps and Virtual Reality (VR)/ Augmented Reality (AR), Animmersion can deliver a comprehensive virtual event and remote presentation service tailored to individual client needs.

These technologies are now equally as applicable online and remotely as they have been in face to face engagements, providing solutions that add value in all domains and ensuring that investment in high-end digital content is significantly de-risked.

The grant will enhance Animmersion’s continuing development of a range of immersive solutions such as a suite of interactive 3D tools, AR product demonstrators and VR collaborative spaces.

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the government. It has the purpose of driving productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.

The grant scheme was introduced by Innovate UK to enable British businesses to apply for a share of up to £20 million to respond to new and urgent needs in UK and global communities during and following the pandemic.

Samuel Harrison, Managing Director of Animmersion UK, said: “Securing this grant from Innovate UK is a major endorsement of the potential of our Virtual Interactive Events service, which has significant application opportunities across multiple industries. With physical events cancelled, domestic and international travel reduced and social distancing becoming a cultural expectation, even when the distance is reduced, immersive and interactive technology can provide a solution.

“We are already seeing a positive reaction from a range of sectors to our VIE service, which is a collaboration of some of our existing immersive capabilities, coupled with new innovations, and am confident that with the support of this grant we will further enhance our offering to meet the requirements of a growing marketplace.”