The University of Sunderland





The University of Sunderland, based in the Northeast of the UK, offers transformational experiences to talented students from all backgrounds. And key to its offering is developing highly-skilled, ready-for-work graduates, through career-focused teaching and learning.

It’s been investing heavily in its Faculty of Technology, as well as in its Digital Incubator space. The Digital Incubator is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and has already worked with over 100 students, over half of whom have gone on to set up their own businesses.

The University had begun investigating immersive technology for these facilities and in its search came across Igloo. And, while it explored other options, such as flat screens on walls to create an immersive display, or VR headsets, Igloo was chosen as a tried-and-tested technology, that’s used by industry and enterprise all over the world.

The solution

Working closely with the team at the University, we specified and installed a 6-metre immersive cylinder powered by our Igloo Enterprise software. So, students have a wealth of capabilities at their fingertips, from working with simple 360° videos or photos, to working with game engines such as Unity via Igloo Realtime, and the whole of the internet available in an immersive space via Igloo Web.

It’s been installed in a carefully chosen spot directly opposite the entrance to the Faculty of Technology building (in fact, an existing staircase was removed to give the Igloo more room). And, with bold branding, the Igloo makes for an incredibly eye-catching centrepiece that no one misses when they set foot in the building.

The result

Early in 2022, eight groups of eight students each set out on projects that would make use of the Igloo and its many capabilities.

One half of the groups is working on an interactive museum experience using Unity and Igloo’s plugin for the game engine, which will allow the experience to be shown in the Igloo. And the other half is working on an interactive learning experience targeted at Key Stage 2, which can be built with Unity or as a web-based app to be shown using Igloo Web.

And, as part of that project, Team Igloo is linking up with the students throughout the module, culminating in a final showcase at the end of the module. In this way, the students are making links with industry and getting a feel for how development is in the real world.

Going forward

As you can imagine, we can’t wait to see the outcomes of those projects (and we’ll be sure to update here on that).

The University is looking forward to making its new immersive facility available to other organisations too – for example, inviting local schools in, or hiring the space out to businesses for training and meetings too. It’ll also be offered for other faculties and subjects to take advantage of.

Students are already asking plenty of questions on how else they might use the space – for a fashion show, for viewing CAD drawings, and so on. And, it’ll be used by two PhD candidates to investigate how it can be used in gamification, and in how students can improve the way they learn in a new, different environment.

“The technology inspires innovation and gives students the potential to work in bleeding edge fields – that’s really quite precious for our potential graduates. The students are getting a very real experience of developing content on a very new platform and they’re all very excited and enthused by that.”

Dr Kate MacFarlane

Senior Lecturer in Computer Science

“We set up a call for other faculties to come and see the Igloo. Everyone was blown away by it and they’re thinking about how they can use it with their students, and engage with ours too. So it’s already helping form collaborations across the University.”

Professor John Murray
Academic Dean – Faculty of Technology

“We didn’t want this technology to be hidden away in a room, we wanted it to become a centrepiece for the building. It puts the University at the forefront of technology.”

Paul Graham
Senior Lecturer University Enterprise Zone Digital Incubator

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