BT launches UK’s first 5G-enabled, interactive simulation experience

BT launches UK’s first 5G-enabled, interactive simulation experience Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

BT has launched immersive spaces for business and public sector customers – creating the UK market’s first 5G-enabled interactive simulation experience.

Launched in partnership with Immersive Interactive, BT Immersive Spaces simulate real-life environments within an internal or external room, or mobile unit – to create an interactive immersive experience.

The fully immersive rooms are connected to the EE mobile network, using cameras and HD projectors to bring 360° content to life across the space’s walls and floor. Inside the space, users can experience real-life or imagined scenarios in detail, and add interactive elements – virtually transporting themselves into simulated environments, augmented with lights, sounds, and even smells.

Each space comes with a content library of more than 3,000 computer-generated scenarios, real-life environments, games and training experiences. BT Immersive Spaces can be used for anything from training paramedics in a simulated, gamified roadside accident scene or hospital unit, to recreating fan experiences at a football match, important historical moments, or even a trip to a beach in Thailand. The spaces are also compatible with VR, AR and XR technologies to enhance the user experience.

Immersive Spaces offers use cases across a huge variety of sectors. BT is experiencing early demand for training and development use cases across education, healthcare, retail, transport, tourism, construction and sport – creating virtual experiences inside operating theatres, buses, warehouses, supermarkets, building sites and arenas. They are suitable for any business or organisation with a learning or development requirement.

Initial customers for BT Immersive Spaces include Borders College in Galashiels, Scotland and Cadoxton Primary School in South Wales. Both are using the technology to create fully immersive and interactive classrooms.

“The children absolutely love it,” said Hannah Cogbill, senior leadership at Cadoxton Primary School. “Their favourite one so far is life under the sea. We can’t wait to explore more of the experiences and collections and then begin to develop our own content. We are looking forward to using it to support our children’s development and progression of imaginative writing. But it will also be a great scaffold to support learners with pre-experiences that they might be nervous about – for example catching a train or going on an aeroplane.”

Construction students at Borders College, who have previously not had the opportunity to access large-scale inner-city developments for on-site learning, can now experience first-hand teachings of the construction environment using the technology. Students taking courses from engineering to medical and health and social care also benefit, as they can manage real-life scenarios and increase their understanding of working in each career path. This will include Electrical Safe Isolation, ambulance training and dementia training.

David Lowe, assistant principal of curriculum and sustainability at Borders College, said: “Thanks to this new innovative 5G enabled equipment from BT, there will no longer be a divide between the opportunities offered to rural and inner-city students. Our students will be able to learn from wide-ranging developments, which is incredibly important in helping them to navigate their career opportunities and understand where their preferences lie in this diverse sector. As lecturers, it will give us far more agility to update our courses as new practices and techniques enter the market, which will unlock a wider and ‘green’ range of skills among students.”

BT’s Immersive Spaces are the first in the UK to allow customers to edit and create interactive content of their choice. As well as a pre-populated content library, this includes the option to film, edit and even live stream their own videos using a 360° camera, supplied by BT.

Alex Foster, director at Division X – BT’s business innovation team, said: “Immersive Spaces bring together EE’s unrivalled connectivity with the very best immersive tech – combining the real and digital worlds to create new benefits for business and public sector organisations. This technology has the potential to be a game changer for training and development in any industry. Putting the power of immersive content into the hands of customers allows people to experience learning in a completely new way that is targeted specifically to their needs – which can significantly improve information retention and problem-solving skills. It can also enrich remote sales experiences, add a new layer to gaming and sports, and transport people virtually to any location, anywhere, during any point in history.”

BT’s Immersive Spaces are fully supported by EE’s 4G and 5G network. With 5G, users can live-stream content from a real-life location directly into the BT Immersive Space. Where this isn’t possible, they can download content and store content over 4G or even fixed fibre.

David Salt, MD at Immersive Interactive, said: “The potential for immersive technologies is huge. Being able to interact with every surface of an immersive room, as well as enjoy additional sounds, smells and sensory effects, allows people to become truly submerged and virtually transported to new environments, as if they were experiencing the real thing. We are thrilled to be working with BT to bring this technology, with limitless potential, to businesses and consumers who can benefit from learning in a new, interactive way.”

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