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Ithra showcases immersive digital technologies at inaugural Demo Day

DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA: The King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (Ithra) is excited to present five projects under its inaugural Creative Solutions initiative launched under the theme “Digital Immersive Content Creation”. The program is designed to boost Saudi Arabia’s creative economy by empowering digital content creation in immersive technologies and drew 231 applications.

The year-long initiative focuses on building an ecosystem of innovators working on immersive technologies including artificial intelligence, haptics, and virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, as well as immersive audio. From a total of 30 ideas by 59 creatives selected to attend masterclasses with top international creatives, five projects were chosen to attend an international bootcamp. Each group received a grant to support the process of bringing their ideas to life. The finalists will present their projects to global experts and investors in Saudi Arabia on February 7, before presenting to an international audience in London in March.

All five finalists will have the opportunity on this demo day to showcase their work and allow guests to explore the different ways of engaging in immersive technologies. The five projects explore interactive gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, location-based experiences and much more.

“Ithra is at the centre of the Kingdom’s cultural and creative ecosystem – it is where imagination is powered, ideas are born, knowledge is shared and culture celebrated, and where innovation takes centre stage”, said Miznah Alzamil, Head of Creativity and Innovation at Ithra. “As the Kingdom’s leading hub for creatives and innovators, we offer year-round programs that support the growth of Saudi’s creative sector by providing established and budding creatives with the resources, expertise and opportunities to unleash their potential. Creative Solutions is testament to Ithra’s commitment to building a sustainable creative ecosystem in the Kingdom. We are encouraged by the interest shown in the program’s first year, and proud of the work the 2021 cohort put into their projects. The groups demonstrated truly creative thinking and we are excited to see how they perform in front of our industry experts and investors at the Demo Day”, added Alzamil.

Ithra’s Creative Solutions program is designed to bolster professional skills development in the Kingdom, while promoting knowledge sharing and the development of original creative content and marketable solutions. The initiative encompasses fields such as art, health and wellbeing, training, entertainment, education and culture. The projects were selected by a panel of experts including Maddalena Crosti, program lead at Digital Catapult (the team behind CreativeXR, the UK’s largest immersive content accelerator), and Simon Benson, a leading technology consultant and former director of immersive technology at Sony, where he was part of the team that founded the PlayStation VR project. Anthony Geffen, one of the world’s leading documentary filmmakers and a pioneer in immersive storytelling, is the keynote speaker at the demo day.

The 2021 finalist projects are:

  • Alqatt XR, a gamified immersive experience for digital heritage by Layla A. and team. The project started as academic research exploring ways to present craft to the world in new ways using technology. It brings tech and gamification into the heritage space, and builds on the Beat Saber VR rhythm game.
  • Jawaab, an interactive gamified museum tour application using augmented reality and location-based services by Nouf AlSughier and team. The project looks at how entities such as museums, galleries, airports etc. can improve on the user experience through gamification. It enables institutions to share content the user can engage with and add to.
  • Anticipation of Rain, an environmental reflection inspired by the expectation of rain by Naima Karim. The formerly 2D artist has developed a 3D location-based experience exploring people and the environment’s relationship to rain as experienced in Bangladesh, the Netherland, and Saudi Arabia, incorporating the smell of rain from Switzerland.
  • History of science, a view of the world through the eyes of the greatest storytellers and the greatest scientists in history by Abdullah Al-Arfaj. The creative combines his passion for teaching science and educating children to develop new ways of teaching young learners about the history of science through immersive technology, based on his coding knowledge and understanding of game engine design.
  • Wamdah, an interactive film about a man who embarks on a journey to find his lost brother by Abdullah Ba Mashmos. A startup of Jeddah-based app developers takes users on an experience through time from the Saudi desert in the 1950s to Neom in 2040. The film presents their vision of a futuristic desert location.

The Creative Solutions Demo Day also serves as the launch of the program’s second year. Registration is open to all citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia over the age of 18. Applications close on April 30, 2022.

For more information on Ithra and its programs, visit www.ithra.com.

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