With the role of technology growing exponentially across various sectors, immersive realities are offering a whole new world of opportunities to creative professionals.

In collaboration with Robert Gordon University, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s creative support organisation, XpoNorth Digital, will host a webinar designed to give small business owners an insight into how immersive technologies can be used in fashion and textiles. The session will kick off a series of workshops pioneered by XpoNorth Digital and aimed at helping small business tap into the potentially transformational impact of academic research and collaboration.

Taking place on March 29, the session will introduce participants to the opportunities and challenges presented by augmented and virtual realities. Using the example of Harris Tweed Hebrides, the workshop will explore how innovative virtual platforms can help a business’s image to evolve and explore new areas of commercial opportunity.

RGU’s Academic Strategic lead, Dr Karen Cross, will be sharing her expertise alongside the university’s design researcher, Josie Steed, and Dr Yang Jiang, from RGU’s Head of Computing. The trio form part of a multi-disciplinary team working on the AHRC-funded Augmented Realities project, which examines the value that immersive realities can bring to traditional textile and fashion products.

The webinar will also be attended by representatives of Interface, an organisation which connects academics with businesses interested in incorporating learnings from academic research into their own practices.

The session will also provide a glimpse into the future of augmented reality, with an introduction to future projects being piloted with small businesses and heritage organisations, as well as a look at how immersive technologies can help to forge international connections for businesses.

Iain Hamilton, Head of Creative Industries at Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “We are delighted to have RGU opening the first workshop of this new series of content, designed to introduce businesses to different areas of academic research. There is so much research available within Scottish universities which could save businesses significant amounts of time and money as they look at how to develop their products and services. We’re also really pleased to have Interface join the session to offer our business networks practical advice on how to access existing research or partner with academic collaborators to undertake new pieces of bespoke research.”

Karen Cross, Senior Lecturer at RGU’s School of Creative and Cultural Business, said: “We are really excited to share some of the collaborative research and development work that we've been doing with our amazing Scottish fashion and textile SME partners. Our research is interdisciplinary, spanning sustainability and the ever-evolving digital economy, exploring the potential of immersive technologies to engage with new audiences, locally and internationally.”

The workshop, which is free to attend, will take place virtually between 1.30 – 2.30pm and those interested in participating can sign up at the following link: https://xponorth.co.uk/events/marshalling-resources-augmented-fashion-with-robert-gordon-university.

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