BT’s Immersive Spaces is like a holodeck for education and training

UK telco group BT has unveiled Immersive Spaces, an ‘interactive simulation experience’ for jazzing up things like education and corporate training.

Andrew Wooden

May 26, 2023

4 Min Read
BT Immersive spaces

UK telco group BT has unveiled Immersive Spaces, an ‘interactive simulation experience’ for jazzing up things like education and corporate training.

The firm invited journos down to its London HQ to experience the ‘mobile unit’ version of Immersive Spaces, kitted out with projectors creating three interactive walls inside. These can be made to run an array of programmes designed to serve up the ‘interactive immersive experience.’

The presentation started with underwater and outer space environments in which educational quizzes popped up, a wizard’s den where you could touch the wall and launch a lightning bolt, before switching gears somewhat to a virtual burn unit training programme, followed by a tour in a fork lift truck. Each scenario had some form of interactivity, and BT says there are in total 3000 of them to choose from – some of which can also include smells.


As well as the mobile unit, the tech can be installed within a building as a bespoke set up, we’re told.

It’s almost Star Trek’s holodeck in intention, though in application of course the technology isn’t quite as sophisticated – certainly not enough to accidentally create a sentient holographic villain who subsequently tries to break out of the virtual enclosure and steal a shuttlecraft (that’s a deep-cut Star Trek the Next Generation reference for you).

We’re told BT is experiencing early demand for training and development use cases across education, healthcare, retail, transport, tourism, construction and sport, and has created scenarios inside operating theatres, buses, warehouses, supermarkets, building sites and arenas. In terms of schools, Borders College in Galashiels, Scotland and Cadoxton Primary School in South Wales are already using the technology.


“Immersive Spaces bring together EE’s unrivalled connectivity with the very best immersive tech – combining the real and digital worlds to create new benefits for business and public sector organisations,” said Alex Foster, Director at Division X – BT’s business innovation team (pictured in the demo above). “This technology has the potential to be a game changer for training and development in any industry. Putting the power of immersive content into the hands of customers allows people to experience learning in a completely new way that is targeted specifically to their needs – which can significantly improve information retention and problem-solving skills. It can also enrich remote sales experiences, add a new layer to gaming and sports, and transport people virtually to any location, anywhere, during any point in history.”

Hannah Cogbill, senior leadership at Cadoxton Primary School added: “The children absolutely love it. Their favourite one so far is life under the sea. We can’t wait to explore more of the experiences and collections and then begin to develop our own content. We are looking forward to using it to support our children’s development and progression of imaginative writing. But it will also be a great scaffold to support learners with pre-experiences that they might be nervous about – for example catching a train or going on an aeroplane.”

There was a lot of talk at the launch of how this is all made possible by 5G accessing the content from the cloud, which is understandable when it comes to the mobile unit as it is ferried around the country on the back of a truck, but when it comes to the in-office bespoke set ups, presumably you’d want to plug it into the fixed network – but who knows.

Of the many use cases that have been trotted out over the years supposedly demonstrating the power and wonder of 5G, this seems like one of the more genuinely useful ones. It’s being pitched at a wide array of customer types, which is understandable since they don’t know who will fancy it yet – though some seem more plausible than others. Time will tell if warehouse managers feel the need to have forklift drivers virtually scoot around inside an immersive Morrison’s warehouse before just plonking them in the real driving seat.

The educational school-focussed scenarios seem to be the most convincing – you can certainly see children being all over a gamified, immersive way of learning spelling by way of a superhero avatar (as was demonstrated at the launch) when the alternative is a dusty old textbook. However, schools don’t necessarily have as much cash to burn on cutting edge tech as corporates do.



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About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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