Nested on top of the Swiss Alps, World XR Crans-Montana Forum is an innovative platform for the development of immersive technologies (VR, AR, MR and AI).

The Forum brings together worldwide XR leaders and experts to forge strong partnerships, discover the best immersive content, bring new projects to life and impact the industry.

We were delighted to present with Dr Thomas Budd from Cranfield University on the use of XR to improve the travel experience of passengers with additional mobility needs at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Aviation XR Weekend organised by the World XR Forum in Crans Montana, Switzerland.

The virtual airport, one of the first of its kind, will be used to conduct research as part of the Passenger experience laboratory in the new £67 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC), currently under construction at Cranfield.

One of the first uses of the environment will be to help improve wayfinding and navigation provision for passengers with additional mobility needs, including those with unseen disabilities.

Researchers at Cranfield University have worked with us to create a virtual airport environment to study and improve the air travel experience for passengers with additional mobility needs.

The virtual airport, one of the first of its kind, will be used to conduct research as part of the Passenger experience laboratory in the new £67 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC), currently under construction at Cranfield.

One of the first uses of the environment will be to help improve wayfinding and navigation provision for passengers with additional mobility needs, including those with unseen disabilities.

Dr Thomas Budd, Lecturer in Airport Planning and Management and Academic Lead of the Passenger experience laboratory, said: “For passengers with additional mobility needs, navigating a busy airport can be an especially tiring and stressful experience. Using immersive technologies in this way enables us to experiment with different designs and new technologies to improve the passenger experience in a way that is safe, time and cost efficient.”

The 3D environment can be configured to replicate different design layouts, ambient conditions and levels of activity within a bespoke or simulated real world airport.

Cranfield is working with Theia Immersive, a spin-out company from the Connected Places Catapult, which specialises in the use of immersive technology for designing inclusive and accessible spaces.

Michael Calver, Co-founder and CEO of Theia Immersive, said: "Immersive technology is set to help change the way in which spaces, places, products and services are designed, enabling designers to better consider the needs of each end user."

Dr Budd and Mr Calver recently presented their project at IATA’s Aviation XR Weekend in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

A mobile and web browser version of the virtual airport environment – showing a full range of airport spaces, features and facilities – can be accessed here.

Eyeware, our augmented reality visual impairment app, received its TV debut on BBC Look East news. Kate Bradbook and cameraman Andy spent the morning in the Visualisation Lab, learning about the innovative project and filming various interviews and demonstrations of the app for that evening’s news feature.

Martin Pett, our COO, talked us through the purpose and benefits of the app. John Worsfold, innovator from the RNIB, explained why the app is so crucial to raising awareness for sight loss. Mike Shebanek, Senior Director at Yahoo! & Accessibility Team Lead, supported the positive influence in design that the technology can provide, from his office in California.