Immersive Storytelling R&D - Joi Polloi

Here at Joi Polloi, we’re excited to announce we’ve been lucky enough to win funding for three projects as part of XR Stories – Young Audience Funds.

The fund aims to explore concepts that will enrich and inspire young audiences using cutting edge technologies in the creation of immersive content. This is fantastic for Joi Polloi as it gives us a good opportunity to experiment with new digital content ideas for young audiences, as well as new and exciting technology.

A toolset for making your voice heard

Joi Polloi’s first successful submission was for the project Change Maker!

Change Maker! aims to inspire young people between the age of 11-16 to promote social and political change through education, advocacy, inspiration and support from their peers and decision-makers around the country. Inspired by the story of Greta Thunberg,  our goal is to empower young people to understand how and why the world around them works, engage with it and shape it.

A young girl with a sign that reads "OUR FUTURES ARE ON THE LINE"

Working with internationally-recognised expert in youth citizenship Dr Andrew Mycock of the University of Huddersfield, we are researching how to bridge the gap between engagement and activism. The Change Maker! platform will provide a safe space where young people can learn about and discuss issues that interest and affect them. Promoting youth voices, users will engage with the platform to express their views and debate with other young people in a way that is natural and nurturing. Change Maker! aims to be a unique resource which acts as an engagement facilitator, ensuring that activities undertaken are presented to policymakers and elected representatives.

Immersive storytelling through smart speakers

Our second project AI Fan Along, explores how AI smart speakers can be used to create immersive storytelling content  for TV shows.  This project focuses on developing concepts for a meta-story chat tool to allow users to engage with their favourite TV show characters through types of voice-assisted smart technology, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. 

The project poses the question “Imagine if you get to the end of your favourite TV show, and you could have a conversation with your favourite character?” Encouraging children to be curious while building their social development is a core focus to the development of the project.

Informed by research from academics specialising in AI at the University of York, we will explore the subject of voice synthesis, automatic speech recognition (ASR) – the ethics around responsible innovation,  safeguarding, accessibility and privacy.

Our work has become all the more timely with the recent launch of the BBC’s digital assistant this year, highlighting the growing appetite for content across smart speakers. The project is particularly pertinent given the focus on the representation of regional accents to create a more personal and authentic experience for users. 

A man walking through the stars (abstract)

Learning through virtual puppeteering

Our third project is in partnership with award winning animation studio Fettle Animation; Awesome Animals Safari is an augmented reality safari, where the audience can meet and interact with their favourite animals.

Using leading AR technology, the project will focus on how to bring 2D animation to life  to create a multi sensory on-screen safari. Our technical research will focus on motion capture and limb recognition to create gesture based online animal puppeteering to progress through the story. Giving children the opportunity to learn interesting animal facts through play.

The project will be underpinned by child-centred research from Digital Literacies specialists Dr Becky Parry and Early Childhood specialist Dr Liz Chesworth at the University of Sheffield School of Education and an exploration of the market potential of this work from Dr Carlton Reeve Head of Games, Animation and Visual Effects at the University of Bradford’s School of Media, Design and Technology.

Awsome Animals, logo

The projects are due to be completed by the end of the year, watch this space for updates on our progress!