"From our beginnings, the Wolfson Foundation has been committed to funding infrastructure for high quality scientific research as well as for performance spaces.

This innovative project at Bristol brings these two interests together, and we look forward to seeing what research emerges from MyWorld about audience response to immersive and digital performance.”
Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation,

One of the world’s most innovative cinemas, capable of monitoring audience reactions like never before, is coming to Bristol.

Officially called an Instrumented Auditorium, the 36-person 150m2 cinema has received an additional £400,000 funding grant from the Wolfson Foundation to help equip it with state-of-the-art monitoring equipment to record data on audience members and how they react to the content they are watching and hearing.

It’s due to open in May next year at the Coal Shed as part the University of Bristol’s new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, a shared creative space home to MyWorld and Bristol Digital Futures Institute Hub.

Thanks to this additional grant, the controlled environment will record audiences’ biometric responses to what they’re watching and hearing, including their heartrate, eye movement and brain activity.

These new insights will help make better, more engaging content and underpin future commissioning, directorial and production approaches to using emerging creative technologies.

There is also enormous potential for future applications of this research, including for example exploring people’s responses to different digital futures, or linking individual differences in response to mental health.

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“If we want to understand whether a new experience or new technology is working, we have to ask the audience.

The Instrumented Auditorium will allow us to stream data that captures audience responses moment by moment, providing unique insights that take us way beyond current questionnaire-based methods.

This is the first fully instrumented facility of its kind in the world, which is exciting not just for us as researchers but for those working in the creative sector, providing insights which will shape the future of film, television and beyond.”
Iain Gilchrist, Professor of Neuropsychology, University of Bristol

The Auditorium will be just one of the world-leading research and development (R&D) facilities at The Coal Shed on Avon Street, where MyWorld and Bristol Digital Futures Institute will be based.

The new facilities, alongside training and production activities, a Reality Emulator, and open collaborative co-creation spaces will open a world of R&D to creative and digital organisations, big and small, in the region and beyond.

The Wolfson donation builds on the £30m Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) from UK Research & Innovation and a £29m investment from Research England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) to support the existing strengths in the West of England to create a global centre of technology innovation in the creative and digital sectors.

These facilities will catalyse new research and development, enable businesses to access pre-market trends in technology, accelerate product and process prototype development via funding and facilities, and access training to create a talent pool ahead of the market.

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"Through MyWorld we are collectively investing in the research, training and studio infrastructure across the West of England, to ensure that this area is recognised globally as a Centre of Excellence for Creative Technology Innovation.

Support from the Wolfson Foundation is invaluable to us in ensuring that the benefits of this investment make the biggest impact possible on the research community and can be accessible to all for the wider benefit of our region.”
Oscar De Mello, MyWorld Operations Director