Hello, my name is Sarah Peake and I am Content Curation Manager for the Eden Project and the Eden Universe 5G project. Our project is testing and trialling how 5G and 5G-enabled technologies can enhance visitor experiences, both on-site at the Eden Project in Cornwall and also among online audiences.
We have created an augmented reality experience—with the help of our project partners—in the Rainforest Biome at Eden Project in Cornwall, where people can explore hidden worlds: including how plants appear through the senses of different species, such as mosquitos, bees and bats. What’s more, “the Weather Maker” allows people to visualise the cycles of carbon and water through one of the tallest trees in the Biome, increasing understanding of the rainforest’s role in climate regulation.
For care-home residents, we created a virtual reality tour of the site. Using aerial footage, live-streamed 360° cameras and virtual reality headsets, we have explored different ways of taking Eden into care homes to reach those that might not otherwise be able to visit in person. The focus was on increasing health and wellbeing, where we wanted to take nature to them, to be able to hear the dawn chorus whilst watching the sunrise, all in 360°.
As for school children, we developed a series of lessons and digital materials to increase engagement and learning. We made an online version of the augmented reality journey and worked with teachers to develop this into a lesson that was broadcast live from Eden to around 700 students in Cornwall.
Finally, appealing to arts and culture enthusiasts, we hosted a live-streamed wellness event from the Rainforest Biome using the 360° cameras and featuring music, song, yoga and dance. The music had been created from an artist residency at Eden, where they had made melodies from recording electrical data coming from the plants.
The Eden Universe project has allowed us to explore new ways to reach audiences both onsite and online, which is something that is really important to us—and the feedback so far has been extremely positive. The hope is that, with improvements to the 5G network, we can continue to push the boundaries and perhaps completely reimagine visitor experiences.
1. What do you enjoy most about working on the project?
Working within a large interdisciplinary team. It has been a genuine pleasure to work with so many different people, including our project partners Marshmallow Laser Feast, Meta Camera and aql, who all have a remarkably wide variety of expertise.
2. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in the name of 5G?
Well, I do have a funny story that may raise a smile. To create the augmented reality experience in our Rainforest Biome, we chose one of the largest trees in the rainforest and proceeded to work hard to map the technology to the tree, the soil and the ground surrounding it. Anyway, I couldn’t believe it when I received a phone call from the head of horticulture to say that the tree had fallen down. I drove down and it was lying across the pathway. Of all the trees in the Biome, it was, of course, this tree that fell. We had to pick a different tree and start all over again…
3. What excites you most about the project?
Using the technology we have developed as a vessel to share Eden’s mission to connect people to the natural world. Now, we have the potential to really reach people anywhere in the world and hopefully, in the future, anybody can enjoy a day out at Eden virtually.
4. What would you like people to know about the project?
New technologies such as 5G, 360° camera streaming and AR offers a lot in terms of engaging with audiences, but the real success and innovation come from working across different disciplines, where art meets technology and creative minds meet technical ones. There is a lot to be learnt from bringing groups of people together and allowing them to explore the different ways technology and 5G could enhance people’s lives.
5. What’s the biggest benefit you think 5G will bring to the UK?
There are many potential benefits of 5G. I’d like to think that it will bring huge advances in healthcare and also agriculture (such as connected agronomy and smart farming systems). 5G can be used to benefit people but also the planet, in terms of environmental monitoring and reducing carbon emissions – however, more work needs to be done to ensure that energy from usage and manufacturing doesn’t outweigh the benefits. There’s no doubt that in time, it will also bring extraordinary digital experiences into our homes, schools and workplaces.