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Born in Bradford

Discover the stories behind one of the world’s largest human experiments

The Born in Bradford VR experience showcases the potential of data-driven storytelling using immersive technologies, machine learning, aesthetic devices and artistic imagination to engage new audiences with the multiple meanings hidden in large datasets.

We believe that reimagining how we engage with data through experiential storytelling can inspire critical insights and dialogue between diverse audiences, bridging the gap between data scientists, policymakers and the public. These can lead to innovative leaps in research, well-communicated policy decisions and greater critical engagement with the world, society, and one’s place within it.

The project uses the Born in Bradford (BIB) dataset, a world-leading longitudinal birth cohort study that tracks the lives of 13,818 individuals from birth to adulthood. The multidimensional nature of this data (which includes health, environmental, socioeconomic and spatial dimensions) presents a unique challenge, in both the making and communicating of meaning.

Another challenge with this sort of complex data is to find effective ways of engaging participants, stakeholders and policy makers, to empower them to make societal, civic and behavioural changes that can promote health and well-being.

The VR experience combines machine learning techniques with aesthetic devices, allowing immersive visitors to explore the datasets using our narrative framework. This framework provides interpretable insights (e.g. the relationship between socio-economic status and air quality) which enables audiences to write the end to their own immersive story. This is done by formulating their own conclusions with the data and potentially discovering novel relationships within the data to share with researchers.

Originally developed during an art-science fellowship at the Cultural Institute, and commissioned by the Centre for Immersive Technologies (CfIT) at the University of Leeds, the BIB prototype is the first application of our forthcoming digital storytelling platform. When complete, the platform will enable big data organisations, scientists and artists to share compelling narratives, data and research in immersive and digital spaces. We have since secured strategic partnerships and further development funding with CfIT, The Alan Turing Institute and the Global Food and Environment Institute.

Project contact

David Lynch

Hardware

Oculus Rift / Rift S

Team

Team name
Dave Lynch, Creative Director / Immersive Storytelling
Christophe de Bezenac, Creative Director / Machine Learning
Richard England, Creative Technologist / CTO
Peter Eyres Creative Facilitator / Innovation Manager
Ning Lu, Data Scientist / Researcher
Lee Smith, Composer

Partners

Partner name
Immersive Networks Collective
CalibuYau
Reflex Arc
Centre for Immersive Technologies, University of Leeds
Cultural Institute, University of Leeds
Bradford Institute For Health Research
Green Mount Studios
XR Stories, Creative Industries Clusters Programme
Born in Bradford

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