Bristol, Bath and the wider South West is home to pioneering immersive technologies that are set to formulate the future of entertainment, content creation and education. As usual, our region is at the forefront of innovation, demonstrating some truly groundbreaking feats of creativity and expertise. 

We’re keen to showcase the impressive wealth of immersive tech being developed in our community, from world-first metaverse studios to haptic technology that creates the sensation of touch in mid-air, the leaders in immersive tech are certainly thinking outside of the box, and it’s fascinating to learn about. We’ve put together a short selection of the leading organisations making strides towards the continuing innovation of immersive tech.

Paving the way in immersive tech

Amutri is a 3D Visualisation software product delivered via a Software As A Service (SaaS), tiered subscription model which automates the creation, hosting, and deployment of real-time rendered 3D Visualisations.

3D Visualisation forms a crucial part of the design, construction, and management of the world around us by conveying ideas, designs and finished products to stakeholders and customers. Whilst the technology brings proven benefits, it requires a substantial financial investment and hundreds of man-hours to deliver and maintain, posing a major barrier to entry for many people and organisations. Ultimately, this leads to reduced profit margins, wasted time and final designs of spaces and places that fail to meet the needs of end users.

Amutri dramatically lowers the entry point to 3D Visualisation through an automated, cost-effective and easy to adopt software product, enabling more people and organisations to adopt and benefit from the technology.

Our judges at the Silicon Gorge Spring Edition 2022 were particularly impressed with this solution, earning Amutri a place in the finals to pitch for investment to a room of investors.

Founded in Bristol in 2019, Condense is the only company in the world with the end-to-end capture and streaming technology to live stream real-world events like music and sports events into 3D applications. The company uses cutting-edge computer vision, machine learning and proprietary streaming infrastructure to capture and embed live 3D video (Video 3.0) into any metaverse game, mobile app or platform created with Unity or Unreal Engine.

Condense has just announced successfully raising $4.5m to deliver the power, connection and immersiveness of live, real-world events into the metaverse. Alongside this, Condense has opened the world’s first metaverse studio in partnership with Watershed to give established artists and emerging talent access to the technology.

With Condense, broadcasting live in three-dimensions to the metaverse is as natural and easy as performing in front of a conventional camera, with no need for green screens or post-production, allowing for an immediate connection with the audience in real-time. But it’s better to show you this – check out the video of Grove performing live, captured and streamed by Condense in Video 3.0.

Rocketmakers consists of a passionate team of experts who design, develop and deploy software for startups and large organisations using the very latest technology. The Bath-based agency is pioneering in what they do, and recently took home the award for Best VR/AR at this years SPARKies awards for developing a software called Beam.

Beam was built to enable businesses to create personalised, immersive content without having to build the software themselves. As CEO and Founder of Rocketmakers, Richard Godfrey says, “just like you might do with a WordPress for a website, Beam allows you to do that with 3D environments,” providing content creators with a new realm of possibilities.

Richard explains that presently, creating 3D environments requires three things: the resources to hire a developer, the luxury of time and the necessary skills. Once this is created, they’re also really hard to change. Enter Beam: “Our developers have created it once and then a content manager can come in and edit the visuals,” says Richard.

Essentially, Beam transforms 3D experiences instantly using a simple to use web tool, with no need for a developer. It can deliver fresh content anytime and can be easily customised for different audiences. To learn more about Beam, its origins and to see a demonstration of it in action with the custom made Castle of Cans, watch the full video here.

Leap Motion and Ultrahaptics came together in 2019 to form Ultraleap, uniting the world’s most advanced hand tracking with the only haptic technology that creates the sensation of touch in mid-air.

Ultraleap recently announced it has completed a £60 million ($82 million) Series D round of investment to enable the company to further develop and commercialise its revolutionary technologies for existing and next generation computing platforms.

Ultraleap has also released their fifth-generation hand tracking platform, known as Gemini. This means for the first time, their world leading hand tracking software is now available across multiple platforms, camera systems and third-party hardware. 

Commenting on the fundraise, Tom Carter, Ultraleap CEO, says, “The metaverse concept is not new to Ultraleap. It has always been our mission to remove boundaries between physical and digital worlds. The pandemic has accelerated the rise of the term as more people now understand the power of enhancing the physical world with digital elements.

“For Ultraleap, this new era is not constrained to VR headsets. Like the internet, it is a reality we will interact with in all parts of life: at home, in the office, in cars, or out in public. Our aim with this Series D raise is to accelerate the transition to the primary interface – your hands – because there are no physical controllers, buttons or touchscreens in anyone’s vision of the metaverse.”

Virti’s mission is to make experiential education affordable and accessible for everyone on the planet to improve human performance. They’re starting off in healthcare as medical error is one of the major causes of avoidable death in healthcare systems.

Lukas Roper, Lead Engineer at Virti tells us, “We are tackling this big problem by using virtual and augmented reality combined with artificial intelligence to transport users into realistic, hard-to-access environments and assessing them to improve performance.”

Virti is using virtual and augmented reality to allow professionals in healthcare and Fortune 500 companies to learn and train for infrequent, high-risk, high-pressure scenarios. Its education analytics software then enables video analysis and CGI training simulations in order “to treat employees like high-performance athletes”. Claiming to improve knowledge retention by 230% and decision-making speed by 17%, Virti is already used internationally by large healthcare providers and has early customers in oil and gas, aviation, and corporate training.

Their tech has been highly commended. Last October they were named as the top 5 UK startup by Startups 100, in 2020 Virti was also named as a TIME Best Invention of 2020, raised $10m and took home the award for Best Use of VR at the 2021 SPARKies.

Zubr is one of the UK’s top studios for augmented and virtual reality innovation. Coming from a visual effects background, they started researching hologram capture and mixed reality in 2014. Now Zubr develops groundbreaking XR content including room scale VR, custom-built mixed reality viewers and augmented product showcases.

The team takes pride in building bespoke, cutting-edge experiences that raise audience engagement to the next level – whether it’s in a museum, at a trade show or for internal business use.

Zubr has now completed over 200 projects, spanning almost every niche under the sun, from creating augmented reality filters that let you slip back in time to 19th Century India, to creating an incredible VR experience for delegates at a medical conference to interact with human body cells using just their hands, and from teaming up with the science centre We The Curious to develop a unique immersive visitor attraction that invites families to create their own amazing, 4D holograms, to more recently showcasing their AR binoculars at the Museum + Heritage Show, with the ambition to resolve the hardware issues surrounding most AR/VR tech. 

With such a focus on education and heritage, Zubr’s projects reflect their appreciation of culture, seeking to enhance the ways in which we learn about our past, present and future through a positive lens, which drives a positive, immersive, output.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.