Now it’s growing out of the huge Cornish crater where its massive biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity, to bring the message to the rest of the world. Eden Project North, at Morecambe in Lancashire, seeks to reimagine the seaside resort for the twenty-first century. Morecambe’s motto during its tourism heyday was “beauty surrounds and health abounds”.
Photo credit: Hufton+Crow (https://www.huftonandcrow.com/)
The project has far-reaching environmental, social and economic ambitions, but above all it provides a day out that inspires a sense of wonder and connection with the natural world. Dundee is being evaluated for Eden Project Scotland, there are plans to build an Eden in Londonderry and others for a subterranean project on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. International projects include developments in China, Australia, New Zealand and Costa Rica.
Eden Project to test Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Realities
As the project stretches across the real world, it is also reaching into the virtual world. Eden Universe is a platform that will test various different forms of augmented, virtual and mixed realities. It will enhance the visitor experience on the Eden site, while also enabling the charity to experiment with streaming high-quality content via the web’s social media networks. It’s an 18-month pilot programme that will test the technology and then look at what content works and what virtual or mixed reality is suitable for the different audiences that visit Eden.
The end result should add to the experiences of those who visit the Cornwall site or another Eden.
The consortium partners include:
- aql, whose co-founder and Chief Executive, Professor Adam Beaumont, is a trustee of the Eden Project;
- Marshmallow Laser Feast, which is expert in content;
- and Meta, which has created 360-degree cameras that use a clever lens arrangement to simplify editing.
The first large-scale test of 5G in Cornwall
The Eden Project enjoys fantastic local support; the local MP, Steve Double, the Local Enterprise Partnership and Cornwall Council all support the first large-scale test of 5G in the county. These supporters are particularly interested to see how it can help to drive economic development and what new opportunities may be opened up within the county by the technology. Local care-home provider, Cornwall Care, has 16 care homes across Cornwall and is keen to see whether the Eden Project can produce content that can be live-streamed into care homes.
Cornwall Care is going to help with a health trial. Currently, about 100 people are prescribed walks around Eden each week by their GPs, and the project offers horticultural therapy. Patients who suffer with stress and anxiety are invited to a training garden, where they grow vegetables and plant wild flowers. Eden Universe will look at how 5G can help to monitor the improvements that these visitors make in their personal health and wellbeing.
There are some interesting technical challenges for aql. Support is needed for virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. Loans of phones and tablets will be required. The site is a bowl with granite walls, and the technology has to contend with the rainforest atmosphere and humidity. One advantage that Cornwall has is backhaul; it’s one of the best-connected places in the UK. Superfast Cornwall, which is funded by the European Union, BT and Cornwall Council and is managed by the Cornwall Development Company, has built a fibre-based network that covers 90% of premises. Indeed, Cornwall pioneered international communications through the world’s first major international undersea cables that were laid from nearby Porthcurno and which made it the best-connected place in the world 150 years ago.
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