Paisley is in the final bidding stage to be UK City of Culture in 2021. If successful it will mean that there will be lots more cultural events happening in and around Paisley/Renfrewshire, but sadly most of the house bound elderly will not be able to attend … we want to change that using technology.

 VR over the Doorstep introduction video

“VR over the Doorstep” is a pilot project by Roar: Connections for Life. It aims to use use Virtual Reality, 360 filming and video streaming to enable the housebound elderly and other older groups and individuals to engage and connect with cultural events and places. Paisley has many beautiful listed buildings (second only to Edinburgh in terms of numbers), but many of them are inaccessible as they lack lifts, wheelchair access or have steep stairs. Using 360 filming we hope to create immersive experiences which the housebound elderly can get virtual access to some of these locations. Likewise there are many local interesting exhibitions, museums and places of interest. We hope to use live video streaming to enable groups in a sheltered accommodation complexes to be taken round “virtually” and ask questions of curator.

Paul Cameron (Digital Participation Officer Renfrewshire Council) Simon Bishopp (Film Maker)  and Nicola Hanssen (Manager of Roar: Connections for Life) who are leading on this project.

We are currently in the testing phase: shooting films & testing them with user groups; researching equipment; experimenting with methods of delivering. We carried out tests using existing VR & 360 content with elderly people, showing short live-action nature documentary films and using Google street view on VR goggles. We are producing some of our own short films to develop production workflows, and also test if people enjoy and benefit from seeing local places depicted in 360.

One of the test shots we took inside the Coats Observatory in Paisley using a 360 camera. Use your mouse to move around the image. 

In the future maybe everything will be recorded in 360 degrees but at the moment VR and 360 filming is still being developed and there are many challenges in using this technology in this way. Some of the issues we will be looking at (and hopefully finding solutions for) include… what do people want to see, how do we develop group virtual experiences for use in places like shelter accommodation, how can we simplify the process of watching VR or streaming video … there is lots to find out and develop. 

There has been huge investment in VR/360 technology by the likes of Facebook and Google so it would appear that these will become much more mainstream. By starting now it will enable us to develop local capacity for VR/360 production and delivery long before the Paisley 2021 events start.

VR over the Doorstep has been funded by the Paisley 2021 Cultural Fund.