UWE Bristol and BRL present immersive storytelling and robotic prosthetics at Bristol Digital Week

Issue date: 26 January 2015

A 3D printed hand holding a screwdriver

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is joining a host of digital media and creative organisations from across the city during Digital Bristol Week . Digital Bristol Week is a highly successful collaboration between broadcast, industry and training partners across the City. Free daily events include networking opportunities, conference days and training workshops.

Digital Bristol Week runs from Monday 2 to Saturday 8 February 2015 with an exciting schedule packed with free events. Building on Bristol's reputation as a centre of excellence for digital media, the BBC Bristol led partnership's programme will help industry professionals understand the opportunities that digital brings. Each day of the week has a different theme.

UWE Bristol is involved in three of the scheduled days – Immersion Day on Thursday 5 February, Makers Day on Saturday 7 February and the Open Doors Day on Wednesday 4 February at the Pervasive Media Centre, home of the UWE Bristol Digital Cultures Research Centre.

UWE Bristol academics are involved in two of the main panel sessions on Immersion Day which will explore the experience, the story, immersive ethics and the immersive future.

Liz Falconer from the UWE Innovation Centre will join Chair Phil Stenton from the BBC Research & Development and Panel and Bruce Hood from University of Bristol Developmental Psychology, to explore the psychology and science behind immersive experiences and how they are created in the audience and user for a panel discussion on, 'The Experience - What is Immersion?'

Professor Liz Falconer said, “We use virtual immersive environments in a range of innovative ways at UWE Bristol to enable our students to explore practice-based experiences that might be difficult, unethical or dangerous to organise in the physical world. In this way, they can practice applying theory to practical techniques in subjects such as forensics, management studies, psychology, health sciences, biosciences and education in a virtual environment before going on to develop their studies in the physical world. Immersion in these environments is a fascinating study in itself, and I'm looking forward to a lively debate and discussion on Immersion Day!”

Mandy Rose - Associate Professor, Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Digital Cultures Research Centre, the UWE Bristol arm of the Pervasive Media Centre, will chair a discussion around the theme of immersive ethics in a panel discussion entitled, 'Dream or Nightmare'. Mandy will be joined by a panel including Manuel Frutos-Perez, Director of Technology Enhanced Learning at UWE Bristol, Rik Lander from U-Soap Media and Kirsty Jennings from Blast Theory, to explore 'How do we keep people engaged and safe and still push the creative boundaries? What are the challenges of bridging and mixing the real and the virtual? Could we lose our sense?'

Joel Gibbard of Open Bionics is one of the biggest start-up success stories from the Technology Business Incubator based at Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a collaboration between UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol.

Joel and his business partner Sammy Payne will give a talk and demonstration at Bristol Central Library on Saturday 7 February from 15:00 to 16:00. This event, 'Open Bionics – Made in Bristol: changing lives with 3D printed hands', features a talk and demonstration and has been organised by Knowle West Media Centre.

Open Bionics uses new technologies to make affordable high-tech prosthetics that can change lives. The company is using 3D scanning and 3D printing to create robotic hands for young and adult amputees. Working on the wearable technology frontier, the Bristol-based start-up has already won multiple awards and had their work featured in the regional national and international media.

Joel said: "We'll be taking this opportunity to show how makers can make a difference. Open Bionics started in my bedroom at my parent's house when I started to hack together materials around the house to make a robotic hand. A maker project that started when I was 17 years old, took me from my bedroom to the world's technology stage at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. We want to encourage more makers and hackers to start tinkering and sharing their work."

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