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Culture and technology meet in the European XTREME research project starting in January

Sami S. Brandt, Associated Professor of Computer Science at the IT University of Copenhagen, coordinates an 8 million-euro Horizon Europe project and leads a research and industry collaboration focused on developing mixed reality technology for the culture industry. Partners of the project XTREME (Mixed Reality Environment for Immersive Experience of Art and Culture) includes among other the MUNCH museum in Oslo as well as the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

Imagine being able to attend a concert with your favourite artist in a venue on the other side of the planet. Imagine being able to invite a friend who lives in another country to go with you. Ordinarily, this would mean a lot of travel expenses, and you would probably also have to take off time from work.

However, with the rapid advancement of mixed reality technology (MR) – i.e., audio-visual aids such as headsets capable of providing the user with an immersive mixed reality experience – you may be able to attend the concert from your own living room in the future. A new Horizon Europe funded project is poised to bring together various parts of the culture and technology industries to develop sophisticated MR technology.

“The project is not just intended for concerts but for all types of cultural experiences. Music, art, and performance has a profound impact on our physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, traditional concert venues and performance schedules can limit access to these benefits. Our project aims to eliminate these barriers by creating an immersive virtual experience that seamlessly blends the real and digital worlds,” says Sami S. Brandt.

“Finnish National Opera and Ballet has a worldwide reputation for excellence in pioneering new ideas and experiences for the audience. Its work in AI (Laila), virtual production planning (XRStage) and digital (Stage 24) have been widely praised and awarded. XTREME represents an opportunity to collaborate with partners across Europe to explore other possible futures for opera and in doing so to maintain and develop Finnish National Opera’s reputation as an innovative force for change,” says Thomas de Mallet Burgess, Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera.

Top-class event experience regardless of time and place

The end goal of the project is to utilize cutting-edge MR technology to transport concerts and performing art events into users’ homes or any desired environment. Participants can enjoy a fully immersive experience with 3D visuals and spatial sound seamlessly blended into their surroundings creating immersion and a sense of presence as if they were in the concert hall, museum, or theater.

Another aim of the XTREME project is to support virtual shared experiences. Ideally, users will be able to invite friends and family to join them at a virtual concert, creating a shared and social connection that replicates the in-person cultural experience.

The XTREME project will launch in 2024 with the kick-off on 11 and 12 January. Sami S. Brandt is the project coordinator of a consortium consisting of ITU and 13 other partners: Immersive Stories, Marionette ApS, Khora ApS, University of Twente, University of Limerick, Fondazione Instituto Italiano, Leibniz University Hannover, MUNCH, Bolt Virtual, 4DSOUND Technologies, Aalto University, University of Nottingham, and the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

The project is funded by the European Union, and co-funded, as to University of Nottingham, by the UK.

Read the original press release.