“VIRTUAL reality can make you have an emotional experience. Once you’ve had that interaction – you can do amazing things.”

These are the words of Phil Birchinall, the co-founder of Inspyro – an augmented and virtual reality business based at The Sharp Project production space in Manchester.

“Inspyro came from working in education technology for about 20 years – and what we found was that schools were awash with technology such as Tablets recently since 2010 when the IPad came out, but didn’t know what to do with them.

“What we wanted to do was introduce some software and some apps that would inspire the pupils and the teachers to really create what they would call a wow moment, and translate that into some meaningful education outcomes.”

When developing augmented and virtual realities, Phil, alongside his son Dan Birchinall focused on the question of ‘What does it leave the user feeling?’ which led them to create a virtual remake of the eve of The Battle of The Somme for school pupils.

“When it came to The Battle of the Somme, we thought ‘well, there’s an opportunity here’ to give pupils an experience of what would it be like in a trench, on the eve of The Battle of the Somme thinking are you going to be alive the very next day, will you kill? Will you be killed?” says Phil.

“The core message behind our work is experience.” says Phil. Alongside the recently developed Battle of the Somme, Inspyro are also working on a ‘Space Adventures’ experience – in which users will be able to explore space.

As a work space – Phil feels Inspyro has benefited from being based in Manchester, even whilst they have fared better with their products in London.

“Being in Manchester is fantastic. It’s one of the bo-ho capitals of Europe, its always been a hub for digital development and those who see content development as key as well.

“In terms of the North-South bit, it’s easy for schools in London because they all get together – you’ve got 2,500 thousand schools that aggregate through the London Grid for Learning.

“In Manchester you’ve got Liverpool, Manchester City Council, all these different places so they don’t all come together, they don’t have the strategic direction that London will have, simply because its the capital city.”

With VR one of the fastest growing high-tech industries worldwide, the market for mixed reality is growing exponentially. As Phil believes, there is still a bright future for Virtual Reality – and still a market for Augmented Reality.

“Augmented Reality, as far as we’re concerned, is still a phenomenally impressive approach in the classroom – we don’t think augmented reality is dead, mixed reality is going to bring that into virtual reality and we’ve had some success with that already.”

For regular updates, follow Inspyro on Twitter at @InspyroVR. 

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