Working with our ACE IT programme (Accelerating the Creative Economy Through Immersive Technologies), the team at the Golden Hinde are making their ship accessible.
What is the Golden Hinde?
The Golden Hinde was built in 1974. It is a full-size reconstruction of the first English ship to sail the globe. The reconstruction has since sailed over 140,000 miles, before coming to rest in its London home, Southwark, in 1996. It is now a museum and maritime tourist attraction.
Although its days as a seagoing vessel are behind it, life as a museum presents other challenges. Seventeenth century design means low doors, narrow steps, and poor lighting. This makes inaccessibility, particularly for those with mobility impairments, a real issue. Education should provide methods of interaction that allow everyone to experience history.
The Damage of Inaccessibility
Roddy Coleman, General Manager of the Golden Hinde, joined ACE IT in March 2021. Inaccessibility of his attraction was affecting survey feedback and KPIs. Recovering after the Covid-19 pandemic, he wanted to make this Elizabethan galleon accessible - he had to move past the limitations of the physical space.
Around a third of disabled people experience difficulties in accessing leisure services. Given almost one in five (18%) UK citizens have a limiting illness or disability, there is a need to improve services.
Disabled people in the UK also represent a combined spending power of around £250 billion. Not only is there a societal need to improve accessibility but a financial reason too.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic made the leisure industry inaccessible to everyone. This highlighted the potential for digital experiences to widen access opportunities. Due to this, and improving tech, there will be an expansion in immersive experiences. According to Planet Attractions, we can expect to see this in the leisure industry over the next 5-10 years.
Roddy wanted to bring a digital augmented reality (AR) experience of the ship to all guests. Combining AR with education provides more detailed, immersive, and real-view knowledge to students. This improved accessibility for all.
With limited knowledge in the field, finding the technology and funding was the challenge.
Why Embrace Accessibility with ACE IT?
Roddy saw the huge advantage of working with the ACE IT programme. Access and collaboration with academics and cutting-edge immersive technologies were available. ACE IT also provided advice and workshops on funding. This would give the Golden Hinde the chance to develop.
ACE IT also saw opportunity in AR education. Forecasts from Grand View Research suggest that the potential AR holds for learning bodes well for the growth of the market.
Roddy combined ACE IT's technical knowledge with his leisure and entertainment experience. This gave ACE IT the industry insights into how their tech could improve accessibility. The market for immersive tech is expected to reach $571bn by 2025. This, in part, will happen as more companies turn their attention to immersive tech plugging the accessibility gap.
ACE IT provided over £2,000 worth of funding to begin this R&D project. Alongside the technical work, this included access to workshops. These covered financing and prototyping commercial models.
Our ACE IT programme and academics delivered:
- Workshops on immersive technology
- Advice on how augmented reality could improve accessibility
- Cost and technical breakdowns for a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
- 360 degree capturing and 3D modelling to build a digital twin of the site
- An MVP suitable for investor presentation
- Prototypes of the product at different levels of investment
- Cost and technical documents to present to investors.
Climbing through rigging and scaffolding, ACE IT captured the Golden Hinde on 360 cameras. Using these images they built augmented reality portals. These portals open a door to a virtual space in real-world locations. Through these portals users can access 3D modelled spaces of areas that would otherwise be difficult to access. These models were also texture mapped to create something as real as possible.
At MVP stage, guests can explore this historical vessel without having to leave a space. This makes it suitable for those with mobility impairments.
What Could Be Next?
As the product advances, AR also has advantages for:
- Visual accessibility through user-controlled zoom functions and “dark” modes
- Cognitive accessibility by reducing stimuli or controlling how information appears
- Communication accessibility with real-time captioning or sign language interpreters.
Once access to the Golden Hinde is available on handheld devices this is the area of immersive technology expected to grow fastest. The handheld devices segment is expected to amount to a Compound Annual Growth Rate of over 45.0% from 2021 to 2028.
Roddy said of the experience:
“I have met some incredible professionals with exceptional knowledge and skills … working with an academic institution furthers both party’s knowledge and understanding of the various challenges they face.”
After ACE IT, the Golden Hinde immersive experience is now ready to set sail and find further investors.
Can You Make Your Product or Service More Accessible?
Although our ACE IT programme is coming to an end we may be able to support you through our other programmes. Learn more about accessing creative immersive technology by visiting us here.