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Technology is taking the art of storytelling to an immersive new level

Statistica predicts that the global immersive market will be worth almost $300bn by 2024


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Immersive entertainment is synonymous with some of the biggest companies in the world, but it’s also a world that is a natural fit for Irish entrepreneurs and businesses. Storytelling is at the core of today’s AR, VR and immersive experiences; the long and proud tradition of Irish storytelling, along with our reputation for excellence in technological innovation, has resulted in several Irish companies making waves in this growing sector.

In fact, this is one sector that has grown through the Covid-19 pandemic. Cinema restrictions have resulted in more people looking for immersive entertainment experiences at home, and in 2020, consumers worldwide spent $9.9bn on AR and VR. During the same period, just $7bn was spent on cinema attendance.

The long-term predictions are even more impressive. A report on Statistica predicts that the global immersive market will grow to almost $300bn by 2024. If this figure is in any way correct, this means that immersive media will be as significant to us as mobile apps are today. With this being such a rapidly growing and developing industry, companies entering the sector today will play a valuable role in shaping the world of immersive entertainment over the coming decades.

Investors are recognising this growth and responding accordingly – which means plenty of opportunity for Irish companies looking to enter the sector.t

A new guide, Opportunities in Immersive Media Entertainment, has been developed by the UK-based Limina Immersive consultancy in partnership with Enterprise Ireland to help Irish entertainment companies recognise, prepare for and take advantage of these opportunities globally. Headed by globally recognised expert Catherine Allen, Limina is also currently working with several Irish SMEs branching out into the sector.

The guide looks at the current market and the areas of growth over the coming years, along with the digital immersive technology trends, investment opportunities and advice on getting your immersive entertainment project off the ground.

Many Irish companies are already finding success in the area. For example, Engage XR (previously known as Immersive VR Education) launched a VR documentary in April 2016, Apollo 11, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. Still recognised as an innovative technological advance, the app is based on NASA’s original material from the first lunar expedition in 1969, and allows the user to fly the command module, operate the lunar lander and carry out experiments on the Moon. The company has since developed its ENGAGE platform, which enables VR education, collaboration and events, and is now used by over 130 commercial customers including Fortune 500 companies Meta and 3M.

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Another area of growth is in volumetric filmmaking, and how to make it easy and affordable for both professional headsets and mobile experiences. Irish Volograms has developed state-of -the-art deep learning algorithms powering 3D reconstruction, multi-view texture mapping and many more important features. Their mobile app allows anyone to capture volumetric video of their dancing friend, resize it and place it in a different context.

With storytelling – and “story doing” – being a fundamental aspect of immersive entertainment, it comes as no surprise that Ireland’s highly regarded animation industry is making waves in the sector. Most famous of all is Aurora, developed by Pink Kong Studio in 2018. An emotionally immersive story based around a family of three living in a forest, Aurora has received multiple accolades around the world including the 2018 Monolith Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immersive VR from Infinity Film Festival Beverly Hills.

Irish companies are even taking the technology to the outdoors too. Developed by Algorithm, Living Canvas is one of the world’s first outdoor digital screens used exclusively for artistic and cultural content. Located in Wilton Park, Dublin, the 21 x 4 metre LED screen operates as an exciting open-air gallery – allowing every Irish person to experience this exciting new technology for themselves.

Bartek Siepracki is Senior Market Adviser ICT, Poland and Baltics, Global Digital Entertainment Sector Lead at Enterprise Ireland. Catherine Allen, Co-founder and CEO, Limina Immersive, made contributions to the article.

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