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Virtual Reality Inclusive Music Makers (VRIMM) project is the continuation of “Immersion and Inclusive Music Technologies”, a research project based at the Sonic Arts Research Centre in Belfast, that was developed throughout 2018.

The project promoted empathy using interdisciplinary human-centred methodologies. It brought together researchers with digital performance and immersive technology background, and was supported by three industry/community partners:

  • Drake Music NI, the only charity in Northern Ireland that works with disabled musicians to compose their own music and perform independently;
  • Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble, Northern Ireland’s first professional contemporary music ensemble with an ethos of inclusion at heart;
  • BeAnotherLab, a young company with a five year experience in 20 countries developing an award-winning embodied VR toolset, The machine to be another. BeAnotherLab has been at the forefront of using immersive technologies to facilitate the notion of being in someone else’s place or indeed, embodying the other.

In IIT the team developed a virtual musical instrument for a musician with cerebral palsy and the design of an instrument for a blind musician, base on HTC Vive technologies. VRIMM aims to build on this research to include a wider group.

SARC teamed up with the Farset Labs to create an environment where innovative models of tech solutions for the next generation of virtual music performance can emerge. Together, as a collaborative team, we aim to develop a viable inclusive music prototype using VR/AR, which will run on more affordable systems than the HTC Vive. Our approach will be inclusive, with the disabled musicians at the centre informing our design process and design thinking.

Participants in VRIMM will be active contributors/developers in a monthly workshop running from February to May, at the Farset Labs, the Sonic Arts Research Centre, and with potential community groups. The project will culminate with a makers-showcase where the findings will be shared. The results will be made available on each of the partners’ websites and Github, impacting developers and potential music makers in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Further information regarding the overall project and the design process is available in “How we’re designing musical instruments with the help of disabled musicians and VR, an  article by Dr Franziska Schroeder and Dr Matilde Meireles for The Conversation, an independent news and commentary website produced by academics and journalists.

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