For the FuseBox, much like for many of us, 2020 started off smoothly. With more FuseBox residents than ever regularly using the space and Brighton Immersive Lab, we had a new cohort of companies getting to grips with the 5G testbed and a whole year of exciting events and innovation opportunities planned out.

We kicked off the year in January by hosting another hugely popular Brighton Immersive Meetup, exploring VR content creation. We were joined by one of our first virtual speakers, Google’s Tim Aidley in California, which was a real treat. especially hearing about how they created one of the most popular VR creation tools, Tiltbrush, and how the team goes about prototyping and producing new features.

In February, we invited our residents and the local community to come into the FuseBox and show us what they had been working on at our Brighton Immersive Show and Tell. We also hosted a couple of Brown Bag Lunches with guest speakers including Google Geotechnologist Ed Parsons who blew us away with the incredible technologies and efforts that go into creating Google Maps.

In March, events were starting to be cancelled and soon enough we found ourselves in lockdown along with the rest of the country. With the FuseBox closed, our planned events needed to be rethought and digitised. As a result, we hosted our first ever Virtual Brighton Immersive Meetup from within a VR world using the platform AltspaceVR.

During such dark times, it was a rare ray of sunshine to see and meet ‘face-to-face’ with some of our favourite residents and community members.

Although the FuseBox was closed, our community spirit stayed alive with residents supporting each other over on Slack alongside a selection of virtual FuseBox events to keep everyone up-to-date and engaged.

During this time we hosted virtual meetups (in VR and without), lunch and breakfast sessions and began work constructing a recording studio in the FuseBox to better deliver virtual events over the coming months.

We built a partnership with the fantastic Legal & General team, who became residents to explore immersive tech, including featured residents, Knowledge Architect Steve Barry and Process Automation Developer, Lloyd Wint. They also enjoyed hosting a networking event in VR for their remote working colleagues.

We also used this time to prepare the space to be ready and accessible for when lockdown ended. From reducing capacity and increasing space and cleaning procedures to acquiring new hardware such as the Cleanbox to ensure that residents could continue to develop their VR experiences. Since August, the FuseBox has been open to those residents who are reliant on having a safe space to work and access to our innovation facilities.

We have continued to deliver a plan of virtual events including Immersive Meetups looking at XR technology in relation to 5G and another celebrating women in emerging technologies on Ada Lovelace day. We hosted demo recording days for our 5G cohort and an international symposium between Brighton and Istanbul exploring the potential of 5G for the games and performing arts sector.

Lastly, a thank you to everyone who has supported the FuseBox this year. All in all, it has been an incredibly tough year for everyone, however, it goes to show the power of a strong and connected community. That despite all the challenges, we have been able to deliver so many events and bring so many people together.

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