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Date: 
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 08:00

A consortium led by the Eden Project is one of nine chosen as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme announced today, Wednesday January 13, 2021.

The new project will see the installation of a 5G mobile network together with advanced 360-degree video technology across the Eden Project site near St Austell in Cornwall.

5G is the new generation of wireless technology. The system at Eden will allow the team to create and test a series of compelling augmented reality and virtual reality programmes and new experiences for visitors. 

The infrastructure will also enable the streaming of high-quality content via Eden’s web and social media networks so that millions of people can be reached beyond the home of the world-famous Biomes.

The consortium is entitled Eden Universe and partners include aql, one of the UK’s most innovative telecoms and 5G mobile network operators, immersive media content experts Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF), and META, pioneers of 360-degree camera technology.

The award of the £1.6 million DCMS grant to enable Eden to become a 5G testbed has been heralded by the partners as a major moment in the project’s long-held ambition to create new and exciting ways to share stories and landscapes.

Eden is one of nine projects to receive funding as part of a £28.3 million joint investment between Government and businesses to test how the country can seize the full benefits of 5G and help British industry capitalise on the power of modern technology.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said: “This remarkable project will enable anyone to experience the visual splendour of the Eden Project no matter where they are. We’re investing £200 million to develop new ways 5G can boost business growth and productivity, and through its winning place in our 5G Create competition the Eden Project will explore how this next-generation technology can help the tourism industry.”

Eden’s Development Director Dan James said: The Eden Project is delighted to have secured support from the 5G Create fund. Eden is a visually rich and wonderful place to be, so having this new technology on our Cornwall site and the opportunity to create new digital content with our project partners is very exciting.  

“We are looking forward to testing just how 5G can help support our educational, arts and community programmes and provide new and compelling reasons for people to keep visiting us in person or virtually.   

“The data collected through the 5G network will also help us manage the site and improve the visitor experience and our environmental performance.

The 18-month programme will allow the team to test the technology in situ, and work with Eden’s visitors to demonstrate and assess the enhanced experience and content that the new technology will enable.

Professor Adam Beaumount, Founder and CEO of aql, said: “The learning we will get from working with the brilliant team at Eden, Meta and MLF will help shape our future 5G roll-out with a focus on carbon neutrality and end user impact.

“It will be exciting to understand how the 5G network will perform within the different climatic conditions of the Biomes on the Eden site.” 

The 360-degree cameras built by META will provide alternative views of specific locations within the Eden Project.

Henry Stuart, Co-Founder of META, said: "The cameras will gather immersive 360 content from all around Eden, in an unparalleled level of quality and detail. These streams will be combined with Marshmallow Laser Feast's stunning augmented reality layers.

“The content will reveal invisible layers of Eden and new stories. This experience can also be made available in the home via immersive 360-degree live streams. Audiences will be able to view the footage, sent ‘out’ of Eden via the power of the 5G network.”

Eden and Marshmallow Laser Feast worked together on the development of the Sustainability Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai site and that project provided the opportunity to collaborate on the Eden site.

Marshmallow Laser Feast Executive Producer Eleanor Whitley said: “Eden is already a visually captivating place full of wonderful stories, we will work closely with the science and education teams to reveal the world beyond the limits of human senses through augmented reality. 

“The programmes we will create will enable us to delve deeper into subjects already presented to audiences but which aren’t currently possible to explore without the 5G infrastructure.”