Two of Britain’s leading tech educators and innovators have announced ground-breaking plans to revolutionise the way in which further education and learning is taught with a virtual science and tech campus using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
Tech & Science educators Credersi and 3D tech innovators PixelMax are two of Manchester’s ‘Silicon City’ tech disruptors who are at the forefront of redefining a world in which students and those in adult education shape their learning of the future in a virtual campus world, complete with shops, cinemas, art galleries, wellbeing rooms, food and coffee shops by using immersive VR and AR technologies.
Dubbed ‘Silicon City’, Manchester is now the fastest growing tech hub in the UK and across Europe and is widely seen as the UK’s version of California’s “Silicon Valley’ for its phenomenal growth of tech companies.
Former Code Nation/Rethink Group CEO, Andy Lord, tech angel and CEO of The Strategy & Architecture Group, Darren Coomer, the co-founders of Credersi, and PixelMax co-founders Shay O’Carroll, Rob Hilton and Andy Sands, teamed up to see how they could revolutionise the world of learning and education together.
After seeing how the pandemic had impacted university students and those in further education courses, who have been struggling to keep up with remote learning on platforms such as Zoom and Teams, they decided to create the immersive virtual world of the Credersi Science & Tech Campus.
Credersi is at the forefront of incubating, training and developing the digital pioneers, codebreakers, vaccine developers, bio scientists, biological and cyber defenders, software engineers and data scientists of the future.
Darren CoomerCEO of the S&A Group is an industry leading CIO and tech innovator who has built and designed a number of disruptive digital products across financial services, pharma, education, retail and telco. With tech and digital in his DNA, Darren has led a number of the UK’s biggest digital transformation programmes.
“As a previous ‘buyer’ of 100’s of traditionally schooled tech talent, I’m fully aware of the limitations of entry level staff as well as the high costs of buying experienced consultants. So, we set about developing initiatives that could combine excellent education with real world experience in complex subjects such as coding and science. That’s when we met PixelMax. It quickly became clear that the solution lay in converging the things we already knew best – teaching and technology, but particularly Virtual Reality.
The opportunity to transform and revolutionise the training and education sector by bringing together some of the smartest industry disruptors with the Credersi and PixelMax teams, fused within an immersive mixed reality platform using VR and AR was irresistible for me.”
Both companies are creating an exciting and immersive 3D virtual world in which delegates, lecturers and course tutors can take their learning courses to another level. Delegates will be able to enter the virtual campus world, which fuses both augmented reality and virtual reality, to learn their chosen subjects and study.
PixelMax has also authored several award-winning academic papers including; J Barrow, C Forker, A Sands, D O’Hare, W Hurst, ‘Augmented Reality For Enhancing Life Science Education. A paper presented at VISUAL 2019 – The fourth international conference on applications and systems of visual paradigms, Rome, Italy. It also authored - W Hurst, K Latham, D O’Hare, A Sands, RJ Gandy, ‘A Case Study On The Development Of A Virtual Reality Proton Beam Unit, in: Interactive Digital Media 2018, 11 December 2018 – 12 December 2018, Liverpool.
The Credersi Science & Tech Campus is an immersive experience with its own real estate. Delegates enter the concourse and will be able to delve into different learning pods relevant to their courses. Various boulevards line the tech estate, which engage with the delegates at all levels providing breakout rooms, shops, cinemas, art galleries, oceanic aquariums, as well as virtual banks and even wellbeing counsellors.
The careers boulevard will have exhibitor totems, where tech, pharmaceutical and bio science companies can have a presence on the campus real estate. Delegates can drop in to learn more about career opportunities at each company. The campus will also have its own careers fairs, where companies can come to recruit delegates. Other areas of the campus will include a ‘shopping’ boulevard and a ‘wellbeing’ boulevard.
The lecture boulevard will have rooms that allow delegates to wander in and listen to visiting academics and tech entrepreneurs giving masterclasses. Bio scientists will be able to carry out and conduct live experiments in AR and VR laboratories, while coders and cyber security students can simulate real-time ethical hacking and defence exercises on real-life infrastructures.
Andy Lord CEO of Credersi explains:
“We all know that the Zoom and Teams platforms played a vital role at the start of the pandemic in education and learning, but as time has progressed, delegates, lecturers and tutors have all suffered in some form or another of Zoom and Teams ‘burnout’.
“What we are creating with the Credersi Science & Tech Campus is something truly unique, which is immersive, engaging and interconnecting. We are creating a virtual world using the latest technology in virtual and augmented reality. It means that we educate and inspire the next generation of tech and science pioneers in a world they relate to. We want to ensure that each delegate can be immersed into their surroundings and engage with their syllabus learning with VR and AR. At the same time, we want to provide a platform where if they want to break out and visit the virtual art gallery, they can see who the latest visiting art exhibition is from. They can take time out from a masterclass to go shopping or watch a film without leaving the campus – or order food and have it delivered to their location. They can even visit a wellbeing or counselling pod, where they can interact one-on-one with counsellors to maintain their wellbeing and mental health.
“By creating our own real estate within the campus, big pharmaceutical companies and technology firms can exhibit their companies and recruit the very brightest minds and talent coming out of our incubator programs. We become much more than just a tech training provider, but a science and tech campus that has everything to offer delegates and future employers. There is no reason why you couldn’t have companies like Astrazeneca, PWC and British Aerospace alongside Government organisations such as the Home Office and GCHQ, as well as retailers like Boohoo and ASOS, and Deliveroo or an Amazon online shop.
PixelMax was founded in 2018 and created by co-founders Shay O’Carroll, Andy Sands and Rob Hilton. Their specialism lies in creating virtual 3D worlds, where they have delivered ground-breaking initiatives and won numerous awards. They have worked with some of the world’s biggest businesses to deliver innovative solutions that solve a variety of business problems and challenges. PixelMax made significant inroads in the manufacturing, medical and educational arenas in the early days, delivering digital twins and data visualisation techniques that allowed complex issues to be quickly understood and solved. Over the last 18 months their 3D world technology has evolved to offer world first virtual events and more recently to create ‘always on’ 3D environments which businesses are now starting to use as their virtual office to complement their hybrid working model. The PixelMax technology harmonises the virtual world and the physical world to deliver an enhanced or more immersive reality for the user. Partnering with Credersi to create the science and tech campus is a great example of what can be achieved.
The technology allows businesses to create and host their own virtual worlds for training, product or process simulation, education and, more recently, virtual events and virtual showrooms. The use cases and options for this technology however are endless. The range of features that can be offered in a 3D world are vast. Essentially anything is possible. From live and pre-recorded content, real-time networking such as live chat and calls, interactivity like surveys, competitions and games, as well as live social media feeds – to name a few – all whilst navigating through a 3D immersive environment.
PixelMax were able to pivot their 3D immersive technology during the pandemic when the business events and conference industry virtually collapsed. It was able to offer a virtual 3D world to host business events and conferences. Most recently, PixelMax successfully delivered the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final where they created a once-in-a-lifetime moment for the lucky fans who entered the 3D world, allowing them to chat with the players and take part in ‘keepy-uppy’ competition on the pitch. They have also delivered major education-tech conferences with streamed contributions by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, Merseyside Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
PixelMax co-founder and tech disruptor Shay O’Carroll commented:
“The 3D worlds we create and the solutions we offer our clients are vast. The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate and it has become clear that virtual worlds add a huge amount of value. The PixelMax technology allows our customers to deliver something truly unique.
“Our mission has always been to create a place where people can effectively communicate and collaborate in real time. PixelMax is a platform that incorporates all communication channels in one place, we are looking to bring back spontaneity, human-to-human connections and a sense of community in a digital world. Everyday businesses are using way too many platforms to communicate; these off-the-shelf platforms haven’t been built specifically for the users. It's really hard to maintain a positive culture, informal chat has gone, spontaneity is dead, so people are losing their ‘human’ connections and becoming untethered from a sense of community.
“The platform is only as good as the content it is built around and Credersi are working to embrace the opportunity to do things better, they are set to be trailblazers in the immersive learning space. Our cultures and visions are aligned, the ideas are flowing and we are so excited to be the platform Credersi are using to amplify their digital world. To say we are excited about this collaboration is an understatement. Watch this space…”
The pandemic forced university students and those in adult education all over the UK to adapt to a whole new world of Zoom and Teams as a visual way to continue their education, learn and communicate with their tutors and fellow students remotely. But with this technological advancement, has also come ‘Zoom fatigue’ which has seen many students, lecturers and tutors in the education sectors burn out. The monotony of Zoom has also led to a huge increase in mental health issues, anxiety and ‘cabin-fever.
The Credersi Science & Tech Campus will launch in October
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