BBC make It digital roadshow

Nearly 6500 visitors – professionals, students and families alike – swarmed into the Mailbox in Birmingham to take part in the BBC’s Make It Digital Roadshow, the final event of a 13-week UK-wide tour designed to introduce people from all walks of life to the world of computers, coding and future digital tech opportunities.

As well as a number of popular theme “zones” featuring Dr Who, weather forecasting and the history of computing, the Discovery Zone, hosted by BBC TV’s Midlands Today reporter David Gregory-Kumar, was home for the weekend to EESE’s Human Interface Technologies Team – Professor Bob Stone, Dr Cheng Qian, and PhD students Chris Bibb, Vish Shingari and Megan Field. 

Visitors were attracted to the Zone by an Augmented Reality demo where they were able to use their Smartphones to take photographs of their family members confronted by Augmented Reality Daleks!  Once in the Zone they were able to experience a wide range of demonstrations based on VR, AR and drone technologies. 

The HIT Team’s pioneering healthcare VR research, based on the simulated coastal scenes currently under investigation within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, was on show as were digital heritage demonstrations showing how wrecksites around the UK could be brought back to life. 


Visitors were also able to explore these sites using the latest VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift and Samsung GearVR.  Some of the team’s latest work, converting aerial video into high-detail VR recreations for heritage applications, was also on show, alongside the “fleet” of quad- and hexacopters used to undertake surveys in the field.  Although the drones could not be flown on this occasion, School IT Technician, Cecil Smith was also on hand with a drone simulator where children were able to hone their flying skills! 

Many of the visitors expressed considerable surprise that such activities were actively being used in research and teaching programmes within the University, and within the EESE in particular, and a number of families were keen to find out about University Open Days, so they could help their children to plan early for an academic career.