Tourists wearing VR headsets outside the tower of london

Tower of London to offer mixed-reality experiences

Image credit: Layered Reality via PA Media

Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), a charity that manages six of the UK's unoccupied royal palaces, is partnering with a mixed-reality entertainment company to bring a new immersive experience to the vaults at the Tower of London.

Layered Reality, which develops digital immersive experiences, including feature-length mixed-reality experiences, for the entertainment sector, said in a statement that it will create an “all-new experience which will explore the landmark’s history in a completely new way”.

The company’s ‘Layered Reality’ experiences are based on three multimedia elements: digital elements such as VR scenes, projection mapping, ‘holograms’, and binaural sound; immersive sets which participants can walk around and interact with live actors; and physical sensations such as temperature, scent, movement, and touch.

There are scant details about what the 10-year partnership will involve, although Layered Reality promises a “landmark new experience” which combines live actors, interactivity, VR, and unspecified cutting-edge technology. The experience will launch in 2022.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be working with Historic Royal Palaces to bring the dark history of the Tower of London to life in a new, creative, and disruptive way,” commented Layered Reality CEO Andrew McGuiness. “In this multi-levelled immersive experience, we will hack into people’s senses and put them firmly in the middle of an explosive storyline, where they have an active role to play in one of the greatest stories and adventures in British history.”

Tom O’Leary, public engagement director at HRP, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Layered Reality on this exciting project, harnessing the incredible power of digital technology to bring all the heart-racing drama of the Tower’s legendary past to life like never before. This partnership marks a real step-change in our approach to digital storytelling, and is just about the closest thing we’ve got to time-travel!”

Layered Reality has been involved in some of London’s most buzzy recent mixed-reality experiences. In 2018 it played a major role in an immersive experience inspired by lucid dreaming, Somnai, and in 2019 it developed mixed-reality elements for Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience.

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