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Centre for Immersive Technologies

Addressing economic stagnation and inequity through immersive technology 

CfIT was launched in June 2013 with the vision of ensuring that emerging immersive technologies are used to build a better society. The centre is now striving to make certain that in little over half a year’s time we can celebrate five years of success in meeting the objectives that underpin this vision. 

On campus, CfIT has supported the creation of a cutting-edge digital learning space for students, staff, and the local community. HELIX offers innovative and experimental digital education tools and experiences including immersive technologies. HELIX is in the EC Stoner building and comprises different zones that support the wide variety of experiences that contribute towards a rich digital education.  

School child on Leeds HELIX omnideckHELIX includes state-of-the-art immersive equipment in the Extended Reality (XR) classroom including the only state-of-the-art immersive 360-degree treadmill in the UK. The ‘Omnideck’ has a 360-degree, three-dimensional rotating floor which enables freedom of movement in immersive learning experiences.  

HELIX represents the successful completion of CfIT’s objective to create leading-edge immersive technology spaces on campus – spaces that can support our students and academic community push forward the boundaries of knowledge about how these technologies can be used to create a more equitable society.  

CfIT’s mission is to make certain that our students and academic community are then hard-wired into the society we serve regionally and nationally. In 2023, we have been supporting the creation of CHORAL – the Child Health Outcome Research At Leeds centre. The CHORAL programme is an exciting new platform for supporting and developing child health research across Leeds, Bradford and beyond. This £5 million programme, running between 2023-28, will build upon the current £600 million capital investment in Leeds Children’s Hospital to create a world-leading platform of academic excellence in children’s healthcare.  

CHORAL aims to improve children’s lives through the delivery of a sustainable programme of transformative research focussed on children’s health and wellbeing. CHORAL will allow us to link key areas of strength in immersive technologies to support innovative visualisation of connected datasets. CHORAL and CfIT will also work together to address the wider determinants of social, physical, and mental health through our ‘Digital Makers’ programme (a programme that aims to digitally upskill 30,000 young people within Bradford and learn how best to provide digital education to communities with different demographics).  

Our work was highlighted in a new report, Addressing Education and Health Inequity: Perspectives from the North of England, launched on 11th September 2023 by the Child of the North All Party Parliamentary Group (COTN APPG). The COTN APPG exists to develop policy solutions to inequalities experienced by children in the North of England. 

CfIT is proud to be an integral part of CHORAL as we seek to address the problems highlighted in the APPG report. Economic stagnation and inequity are blighting our country, but history shows that technologies can grow economies and improve equity. We look forward to continuing to create evidence that can shape regional and national policies as we head towards our five-year anniversary. 

By Professor Mark Mon-Williams