ESL UK about to pump $4m into VR R&D project
Weavr Consortium is the slightly imposing-sounding name of the company that is setting out to change the way we consume esports in the future… and also the umbrella company to which ESL UK belongs. They have just been awarded a 2-year grant by the UK Research and Innovation body, as part of the Industry Strategy Challenge Fund, which will focus on esports broadcasting.
Being government-backed, this whole thing is a pretty big move. Weavr Consortium wasn’t the only company interested in the grant of course, however they are the ones that won the pot with their innovative cross-reality viewing experience.
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The idea is that, while fans watch the games of their favourite pro-players, software layers and displays statistics, visualisations and data-driven stories to give insight into matches even as they are happening.
Delighted to announce the winning bids of our Audience of the Future programme, part of the #IndustrialStrategy. Huge congratulations to @TheRSC, @ESLUK, @factoryforty2 and all other consortia members! I'm so excited to see what you create! pic.twitter.com/A5ydWDqMha— Margot James (@margot_james_) January 10, 2019
Mixed with just a dash of AI and data learning, the overall goal is to create a more interactive and engaging experience for viewers. The UK minister indirectly in charge of this whole venture, Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, has spoken out positively about initiatives like this one.
“The UK is home to some of the world’s leading digital and creative talent. Through our modern Industrial Strategy and multi-million-pound creative industries sector deal, we are bringing them together to give audiences a truly unique experience.” “The growth of immersive technology has the power to transform the way in which we watch theatre, play games or go to the cinema, and these new projects will demonstrate how we can take people closer than ever before to the live action.”
James Dean, the managing director of ESL UK was also quite excited to be part of this new partnership: “At the forefront of an emerging and rapidly growing esports industry, we’re in a very fortunate and unique position to have insight in the live viewing habits and interactivity of young, tech savvy and early adopting audiences.” “We’re ecstatic to be working alongside industry leaders across the Weavr consortium to pave the way for the next generation of immersive technology.”
ESL UK and @weavrtv consortium win a £4m Government @UKRI_News bid to develop immersive VR, AR & AI esports experiences through Audiences of the Future Project to a broader, mainstream public. #AudienceFuture— ESL UK (@ESLUK) January 10, 2019
Read more: https://t.co/mR6kfuFuf6 pic.twitter.com/8U7MkgIdJk
Though this isn’t an immediate thing – as mentioned, it’s a 2-year ongoing deal – it could mean lasting changes in the way we watch esports and faster than you might expect. While our friends in the UK will likely get to experience these new changes and technologies first, the international nature of esports means the rest of the world probably won’t lag too far behind either.
There’s a whole cocktail in play when it comes to the technologies used – first and foremost, VR and AR will play a big role in this whole thing, but so will 8k, Mixed Reality and, of course Artificial Intelligence. All in all the project is going to exceed the money granted in the fund – a total of $5.8 are planned in for it. The rest of it will be paid for by Weavr Consortium themselves – also, several dozen new jobs will be specifically created for this project!