Pico Interactive and LIVR bring the world’s first VR streaming service for theatre and the performing arts

Attend the VR/AR Global Summit Nov 1-2 to see the latest from Pico Interactive and other VR providers!

Wandsworth Council has teamed up with LIVR - the world’s first VR streaming service for theatre and the performing arts - and VR headset maker, Pico Interactive, to offer Nine Elms residents exclusive access to their very own on-site virtual theatre.

The first-of-its-kind pilot programme will see an eight-seater virtual reality theatre experience installed at the R.O.S.E. Community Centre on the Savona Estate in Battersea this autumn. The initiative will utilize the LIVR platform to make theatre more accessible; increasing local residents’ engagement with performing arts. 

Using standalone Pico headsets, visitors to the centre will be able to get access to content from the LIVR library where they can experience great live performances on-demand in stunning 360° VR - completely free of charge.

The extensive content library will feature new works from emerging artists and critically acclaimed productions, performed in theatres, festivals and unique spaces across London and around the country. The fully immersive viewing experience will transport users into the front row to enjoy the performances as if they were sitting in the audience at the live shows. 

I’m thrilled that theatre shows are coming direct to local residents through this incredible virtual reality experience. As arts and culture grows in Nine Elms, it’s fantastic that we can bring performing arts into the heart of the community and I hope as many Nine Elms residents as possible sign up to put a headset on and watch a performance.
— Councillor Steffi Sutters, Wandsworth Council’s Cabinet member for Community Services and Open Spaces
We’re really looking forward to starting regular VR viewing nights, which, alongside our new Community Theatre Tickets scheme in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre and Theatre 503, will offer residents plenty of affordable ways to enjoy live theatre this autumn.
The opportunity to participate in ventures like this and align ourselves with pioneers in the VR space is part of our DNA at Pico Interactive. We build hardware and offer an unparalleled level of service with the goal of helping our partners reach their visionary goals. This is an exciting time in Virtual Reality where people can be transported into unique worlds or experience live content as if they were there, that perhaps, they wouldn’t have an opportunity to do so otherwise.
— Leland Hedges, Commercial Director, Pico Interactive, EMEA

The experience was successfully trialed at the recent Nine Elms Happy Streets festival, and it will begin operating on a weekly basis from Wednesday, 25 September. It will be open to local residents of all ages and is part of Nine Elms' wider cultural strategy aimed at increasing the community's access to, and engagement with, the arts through an ongoing programme of events and initiatives. 

For more info contact Logan Parr logan@pico-interactive.com

About Nine Elms

Nine Elms has always been a critical part of London’s landscape. Its past is one of commerce and industry, its future is of enterprise, art, culture and living. The Vauxhall Nine Elms and Battersea ‘opportunity area’ sits between Chelsea and Lambeth bridges, including Vauxhall & the Albert Embankment to the east and Battersea Power Station to the west.  

The area is being regenerated by two London councils working together; Wandsworth and Lambeth. The development programme is extensive, including a two-station extension of the Northern Line, new parks and schools, and new access to the Thames River Path.  Development partners are building homes, the new US Embassy, a brand New Covent Garden Market, business premises, shops and spaces for cultural exchange.  

Over 25,000 jobs are being created across the opportunity area, which offers over 6.5m sq ft of commercial space and high-quality locations to accommodate new and existing businesses.

The vision is a long-term one; to transform one of the capital’s last remaining industrial districts into an amazing place for Londoners old and new to call home. Today’s reality is an exciting one; new spaces and places coming to life every day.   

The VR/AR Association publishes the UK Ecosystem Report. Download here

With VR/AR, we're going to experience music, art, content and data in context with our lives. A quick search of the GOV.UK Contracts Finder site and the Digital Marketplace suggests that, in the last half-decade, there have been just 17 public-sector tenders for virtual reality projects or products. But six of these were in the first half of 2019. This includes a £700,000 project from Highways England to deliver a virtual training environment, and a three-year framework launched by housing association London and Quadrant, which will use VR/AR technology in the planning of new buildings. A wide range of universities have invested in VR or AR environments to support the teaching of engineering and other subjects. The Ministry of Defense also recently spent money on a “VR demonstrator” to showcase the technologies of the future that will play a key role in the defense sector.

This report features UK-based immersive tech pioneers in the media, advertising/marketing, gaming, enterprise training, computer vision, geolocation, telepresence, education, retail/ecommerce, journalism, healthcare, art/entertainment sectors, among others. Thanks to their involvement with the VRARA in the UK and beyond (VRARA has over 4200 companies, brands, schools registered and over 27000 professionals), we continue to demonstrate how VR and AR will change people's lives, businesses and grow the economy through innovation. This connection and collaboration seems particularly important now, as we face the UK leaving the EU, and with the potential of VR and AR to expand into a $60 billion market by 2023.

If you're not a member yet, please join us in creating this magical future. As Jay Samit puts it: "the best way to predict the future is to spend time with those creating it." And if you or your organisation plan on using VR and AR, then the VRARA and its members would love to hear about it, and we encourage you to get in touch. We can help. Email us at london@thevrara.com

Call for Participation in our UK VR/AR Ecosystem Report. Over 100+ to be listed!

If you are interested to be featured in this report or sponsor it, email info@thevrara.com

The VR/AR Association is working on a report that will highlight VR/AR companies, Universities, and organizations involved in VR/AR in the UK. If you are interested in being featured in this report or to sponsor, please email info@thevrara.com

UK has the second largest video gaming industry in Europe, the fifth largest in the world, and is responsible for the release of some famous games including the Tomb Raider series. The U.K. also has a broad-minded attitude to job employment: university graduates are not tied to jobs relating to their degree programme and complete career changes are not unusual, creating an atmosphere of openness, exploration and flexibility. Together, this has all helped build interest in and experimentation with emerging technologies like VR/AR.

The report will specifically highlight the following:

  • Size of the local ecosystem market

  • Number of relevant companies in the ecosystem

  • List of companies and company info (size: number of employees, revenue; vertical, customers)

  • Reasons why company is based in the local ecosystem

  • Needs and hopes from and for the ecosystem

See examples of our other Reports here

And, below is a sample infographic that will be included in this report, which is generated by our Directory (so please make sure you are registered and your company info including logo is up to date.)

If you have any questions or are interested in being featured in this report or to sponsor, please email info@thevrara.com

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Get your Company Featured in our VR AR Ecosystem Reports

VRARA's 50+ Chapters are producing industry reports on the regional VR/AR ecosystems to promote companies and organizations involved with immersive technologies and media from NYC to Sydney, across the world.  The reports will be promoted by VRARA and our partners reaching potentially a 1M audience. 

Would you be interested to have your company featured in these report or sponsor the report? If yes, then let us know at info@thevrara.com 

Each report will specifically highlight the following:

  • Size of the local ecosystem market

  • Number of relevant companies in the ecosystem

  • List of companies and company info (size: number of employees, revenue; vertical, customers)

  • Reasons why company is based in the local ecosystem

  • Needs and hopes from and for the ecosystem

If you have any questions or are interested in being featured or sponsor, please reply to this email or email info@thevrara.com

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Report: The immersive economy in the UK -- the growth of VR and AR technologies

For a copy of this report, email info@thevrara.com

This report details the growth and potential of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies.


The immersive technologies sector is growing rapidly. We estimate that there are 1,000 immersive specialist companies in the UK employing around 4,500 people. They generate some £660 million in sales, potentially representing as much as 9% of the global market share.

This publication explains:

  • the current state of the UK immersive economy
  • how immersive technologies can provide value for a range of industries
  • areas of regional strength in the UK
  • export activity and opportunities


VRARA partners with Raconteur for the “Immersive Technologies” Special Report in The Times

For more info email info@thevrara.com 

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The VR/AR Association is pleased to announce that we will be the publishing partner with Raconteur on its “Immersive Technologies” special report, to be published in The Times and The Times iPad edition homepage on Wednesday 13 December 2017. Raconteur and The VRARA are working together to create an engaging 16-page report that will cut through the noise to educate global business leaders on how they can build immersive technologies into their core strategy and offering.

With a national circulation of 436,692 and an overall readership of 1.05 million, plus an additional 81,000 daily subscribers on the iPad edition, The Times is the leading business broadsheet newspaper in the UK, reaching a larger audience of C-suite executives than any other newspaper, including The Financial Times. The Times also has a strong global reputation and Raconteur’s Special Reports reach over 82,000 readers outside of the UK and 23, 000 in the US alone.

The special report will profile no more than seven leading companies in this space and Raconteur is looking to VRARA members to take part with discounted commercial options available. Email info@thevrara.com for more info. 

Raconteur is a premium independent publishing house, committed to producing high quality, special interest content for The Times & The Sunday Times newspapers since 2008.

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Apple Brought AR to Life

By Dan Sung, METRO

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APPLE’S most significant launch of 2017 was not the iPhone X. Nor was it the Watch Series 3. In fact, it wasn’t a device at all but the iOS 11 software — specifically the framework inside it called ARKit, which will change the world as we know it.

ARKit is a set of tools for iPhone app developers, the people who turn pretty gadgets into genuinely useful items. ARKit makes it simpler for them to dream up augmented reality (AR) apps — those which superimpose computer-generated images on top of our view of the real world. It also makes AR work a whole lot better. Chances are you’ve already used augmented reality, whether you know it or not, through Pokémon Go or Snapchat and its animated selfie additions and filters, not to mention the dancing hotdog, which was viewed 1.5billion times over the summer.

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Futuristic dream: Developers at Microsoft HoloLens are pointing the way, while Magic Leap has raised a staggering $1.4bn of backing for its projects

See Metro’s top ARKit apps (below) on the App Store for a taster of how Apple is set to make AR more fun and useful than ever before.

Augmented reality is nothing new but, much like its cousin virtual reality, it’s been waiting for someone to realise its potential. The success of Pokémon Go and its 650 million downloads was a marker of the appetite for AR, and this was nothing sophisticated. With ARKit, your phone can recognise the surfaces of your surroundings and put the virtual objects right on top of your desk or your car, instead of just leaving them floating aimlessly in the air. The iPhone’s dual cameras can sense depth far better, track your every movement and adjust the computer-generated overlays to match in a realistic way thanks to the high-performance A11 processor at the heart of the latest Apple handsets.

More important than the tech itself are the millions of iPhones and iPads already out there with potential AR users just waiting to get going. That’s a very different situation from the last big push for AR, which came courtesy of the Google Glass Project and its prohibitively expensive smart eyewear, its limited applications, its ‘glassholes’ label and the host of bad press around privacy.

‘The fixation that AR is dependent on consumer-grade AR glasses as the essential element for widespread usage is now over,’ says multimedia expert Ken Blakeslee of WebMobility Ventures.

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‘Pokémon Go taught millions of consumers the value of the smartphone screen as a viable experience for AR. Apple has just put in place the platforms for rampant AR development and, with the capabilities of the iPhones 8 and X, everything is in place to finally exploit AR in a way consumers will find comfortable and valuable.’

Since Glass Explorer ended in 2015, Google has learned much about AR and now has a set of software tools for Android called ARCore. Expect an AR app explosion on Google-based smartphones.

But the futuristic dream of smart glasses isn’t dead, it’s just that our way of getting there has changed. According to Blakeslee, the focus on smartphone AR is going to accelerate the investment in AR eyewear that looks good and works perfectly. There are already rumours that Apple is in talks with optics firm Carl Zeiss to make Apple glasses.

Microsoft is trying out a more mixed-reality approach with its oversized, more VR-looking HoloLens headgear. The idea is to turn the space around you into a 3D version of your computer desktop. It takes your pictures, your graphs and your windows off your monitor and throws them out into the real world.

Graphic models of the solar system can float around your table, PowerPoint presentations can rise up from your desk and it’s a lot easier to achieve because none of the computer-generated wizardry is reacting to the world around it. Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and Dell all have HoloLens headgear in the pipeline.

While Apple and Google will create the appetite, Microsoft HoloLens can begin to build the future along with companies like the mysterious Magic Leap, according to co-president of the VR/AR Association, Steve Dann.

‘HoloLens is pointing the way’, he says. ‘Microsoft has been very brave to bring it out early and Magic Leap has had more money pumped into it than any new company in tech ever. A lot of people are betting that it not only works but that it’s going to be relevant for an awful lot of people. We’ve all got our fingers crossed.’

Vision: HoloLens turns space around you into a 3D version of your computer desktop

Magic Leap is the sweet spot in the middle, the name that’s been teasing the idea of super-smooth AR through its next-generation headset since 2016. Video demos of little cartoon characters hiding under objects have been enough to earn the company $1.4bn of backing. Word is that the device is bigger than a normal pair of glasses but smaller than VR goggles and that it projects a ‘light field’ of virtual images directly on to your retinas alongside everything else you normally perceive. Could it be the first company to crack smart glasses?

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‘I’m pretty confident we’ll be wearing smart glasses within the next two or three years, looking slightly oversized but nothing that would be out of place on the street,’ says Dann. ‘After five or ten years they’ll be indistinguishable from normal glasses and people will have forgotten what life was like without augmented reality everywhere we go.’

With so many players in the game, it’s unlikely any company is going to own the space but Apple chief Tim Cook might just be able to look back and say that it was his firm that made AR finally click.

iPhone AR apps to try

IKEA Place (free)

Try before you buy and drop a true-to-scale piece of IKEA furniture into your living room before going to a showroom.

Hair Color by Modiface (£1.99)

Find out what you’d look like as a blonde or redhead. Front, side, back; it tints and tracks the lot.

Fitness AR (£2.99)

Show off your bike ride to your friends. Link it up to Strava to create a 3D tabletop map of your Herculean trail.

The Machines (£4.99)

Apple’s showcase AR gaming fun – a robot battlefield on your very own desk. Your orders, general?