News | Tuesday, 3rd October 2017

Students experience BBC's cutting-edge VR films

BBC’s Research & Development department showcase new projects

Earlier this week, students from Manchester Metropolitan University got the chance to test out the BBC’s latest cutting-edge virtual reality projects.

The BBC’s world-famous Research & Development department visited The Union yesterday (October 2) and set up the VR Box to demonstrate their most innovative and engaging work in the exciting emerging virtual reality technology field.

Students also heard from BBC guest speakers, 360° filmmaker Alia Sheikh, research scientist Jasmine Cox and social scientist Dr Rhianne Jones, about their expert fields and how their career paths led them to the BBC’s Research & Development department.

Alia Sheikh, who runs BBC Research & Development’s experimental film projects, said: “We want to attract the brightest people coming out of university so it is so important for us as a department to go out and visit universities, and talk to students about what we do. The BBC is well known but people don’t always know about the behind-the-scenes research.”

Exclusive experiences

The VR box showcased three of the BBC’s most exciting VR experiences as part of the BBC’s For Real campaign.

Inspired by NASA and ESA’s training programmes and the experiences of real astronauts, Home – an award-winning VR Spacewalk transported students up to the International Space Station, where they were called upon to make an emergency repair out in space, 250 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Students could also play darts and pull a pint in a perfect replica of Albert Square’s Queen Vic pub in BBC R&D’s first ever creation of a virtual reality TV set. The event was the first time the Queen Vic VR was available for the public to try.

Another VR experience that students could immerse themselves in was the fairy-tale wonderland, Turning Forest. Equipped with award-winning state-of-the-art binaural audio, Turning Forest gives a hint of the BBC’s vision for new listening experiences in headphones and virtual reality.


Billy White, a recent graduate in Creative Multimedia, was interested in the event after working on his own VR experience for his final piece of work. He said: “I wanted to explore a new current and immersive medium, so I chose to explore Virtual Reality to develop a virtual bike ride where users ride a physical bike and navigate through the virtual scene.”

Paige Davis, a final year Marketing Management student, said she was “really excited to have a go after listening to the inspiring talks.”

Students were able to try out the VR films on the HTC Vive and the Google Daydream, as well as a range of 360 video experiments from the BBC on Google Cardboard headsets.

To visit the home of new ideas from the BBC, including VR experiences, head over to the BBC Taster website.

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