Computer vision experts from the University of Bristol are part of a new consortium, led by BT, driving the technology that will revolutionise the way we consume live events, from sports such as MotoGP and boxing, to dance classes.
The 5G Edge-XR project, one of seven projects funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) as part of its 5G Create programme, aims to demonstrate new exciting ways that live sport and arts can be delivered remotely using immersive Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) technology combined with the new 5G network and advanced edge computing.
The 5G Edge-XR consortium, which is led by BT, also includes; The GRID Factory, Condense Reality, Salsa Sound, and Dance East. The project started in September 2020 and will run until March 2022, with a budget of over £4M, with £1.5M coming from DCMS.
The University of Bristol team is based in the Visual Information Lab (VI Lab) and will be working primarily with Condense Reality (CR). The Bristol-based SME, whose CTO and CSO are both Bristol graduates, has developed a state-of-the-art volumetric capture system, capable for generating live 3-D models for AR applications. This brings the prospect of viewing live sports and dance classes in 3-D and in your home, as though you were there in person.
The Bristol team is led by Professors Andrew Calway and David Bull, who will bring their expertise in computer vision and video coding to enhance the system developed by CR. They will be working with researchers from the BT Labs in Adastral Park, Suffolk, which is recognised for its global leadership in 5G research and standards development.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for the lab and our students, enabling us to engage in important research and knowledge and skills transfer to a local company, whilst at the same time being part of a national programme to showcase what is possible using AR and the new 5G technology,” said Professor Calway.
Professor Tim Whitley, BT’s MD of Applied Research, said: “The approaches we’re exploring with these teams in Bristol can transform how we experience sport, music, drama and education. With access to live cultural events and sport being limited by the ongoing pandemic, this project seems more relevant and urgent than ever.”
Nick Fellingham, CEO and Co-Founder of CR, added: “The 5G Edge-XR project is a real boost for us and working with the University will help us to push our technology to new levels, giving us that important edge in the market.”
Visual Information Laboratory
The Visual Information Laboratory of the University of Bristol exists to undertake innovative, collaborative and interdisciplinary research resulting in world leading technology in the areas of computer vision, image and video communications, content analysis and distributed sensor systems. The VI Lab was formed in 2010, merging the two well established research groups, Signal Processing (EEEng) and Computer Vision (CS).
The Visual Information Laboratory has an international reputation based on fundamental and applied research and collaborates widely. Within the University collaboration is primarily through the Bristol Vision Institute, the Communication Systems and Networks Research Group and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. The Group also has a strong track record of collaborating externally with academia and industry, through EPSRC and EU funding. It combines fundamental research with exploitation, creating impact through patents and licensing.