Discovery Partners with StoryFutures to Make the Virtual A Reality

  • StoryFutures
  • June 10th 2020

Discovery inspires people to pursue their passions for food, motoring, homes, nature, antiques, adventure, sports and more with its portfolio of much-loved brands and content. As viewing habits change, Discovery has developed ‘view and do’ products like MotorTrend and GOLFTV for viewers to immerse themselves in their passion through a content ecosystem that encourages activity.

As an extension of that strategy, Discovery has partnered with StoryFutures, based at Royal Holloway, University of London, on an ambitious project to explore how immersive technologies and rich interactive experiences can fuel people’s passions even further. Built around antiques, restoration and collectibles, one of Discovery’s key genres, the immersive experience will equip audiences with the information, tools and resources to go out into the world and act on their passion.

In collaboration with The Department for International Trade, Discovery and StoryFutures engaged over 50 UK based SME’s who responded to a call for new approaches to factual storytelling using immersive technologies. Using StoryFutures’ open innovation framework, Brighton based creative agency StoryThings emerged with the winning idea over a two-day virtual workshop that will now be piloted for Discovery.

Working with Royal Holloway, University of London’s R&D teams, StoryThings will integrate augmented reality and next-generation technologies into a new factual format that will allow audiences to touch, play and interact with objects that would normally be 2D. Using the same technologies that allow surgeons to have X-ray vision or Architects to model new buildings in 3D, Discovery, StoryFutures and StoryThings will be exploring how augmented, virtual and mixed reality can directly be applied to new forms of factual programming.

"Discovery Channel originally launched with a mission to satisfy audiences’ curiosity about the world, and although our business has grown and diversified that still sits at the heart of who we are", said Rebecca Diver Phillips, Vice President Brand & D2C at Discovery.

We’re delighted to be partnering with StoryFutures and Storythings to explore how next-generation technologies can take that curiosity a step further, by encouraging our audiences to interact with their passions. Immersive storytelling has the potential to transform television viewing from a passive to active experience and we’re excited to be at the forefront of this.”

Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures, Royal Holloway said: "I’m thrilled that, with Discovery’s support, we were able to keep the show on the road to ensure that vital innovation and funding opportunities continued for creative industries during this difficult period. Storythings’ pitch stood out for its blending of immersive and linear experiences, enabling Discovery to take a real leap forward in partnership with both StoryFutures and Storythings in exploring the future of immersive storytelling."

Storythings will have access to Discovery's insights as well as support from leading researchers at Royal Holloway in psychology, business modelling, storytelling and social history as they craft their immersive experience. Matt Locke, founder of Storythings, said "at Storythings we’ve been wanting to experiment with Augmented Reality for a while, and the Discovery StoryFutures brief was the perfect opportunity, as it matched cutting edge innovation with the challenge of large-scale audiences."


Whichever way you look at it, the immersive economy promises to be big business: Price Waterhouse Cooper predict that £1.39 trillion will be added to the global economy through immersive technologies, whilst IDC forecasts that worldwide spending will reach approx. £130 billion in 2023.1 The UK is already assuming a healthy share of this global market (around 9%) with over 1250 specialist immersive companies, and over 500 immersive technology projects identified since 2018 (either ongoing, open or completed) worth £220 million. Predictions indicate that this market share will rise significantly in the next decade with £62.5 billion added to the UK economy and over 400,000 jobs enhanced by immersive technologies by 2030. From StoryFutures Academy’s ‘Skills for Immersive Experience Creation’ report (2020), available here.


StoryFutures was created to fuel innovation in next-gen technologies, by unlocking research expertise to businesses big and small. By helping businesses that would never usually get to do R&D work with the expertise and funding they need to experiment and innovate. StoryFutures is led by Royal Holloway, University of London and is a part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme funded by the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Fund. Our aim is to grow creative businesses in the UK by fostering collaborative R&D and promoting innovation in storytelling in next generation technologies. The StoryFutures partnership includes Sony Interactive Entertainment, The National Film & Television School, Pact, Ukie and Immerse UK.


Storythings is a content studio based in London and Brighton. Founded by Matt Locke in March 2011, our production work covers many different storytelling formats, including video, podcasts, animation, journalism, data visualisation, mobile apps and live events. Storythings specialise in developing bold and creative ideas that capture the imagination of hard-to-reach audiences. We work on public impact stories for corporates, charities and foundations, and non-profits. Our clients include Pearson, Experian, BBC, Wellcome Trust, NESTA and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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