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Lady with VR glasses on
Image credit: Ultrahaptics

The 5G Smart Tourism project was led by the West of England Combined Authority and funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). It brought together over 20 organisations to expand the 5G testbed infrastructure in the West of England, developed by the University of Bristol Smart Internet Lab, to explore novel 5G technologies and services.

Originally set to be a year-long project, a six-month extension was granted to build on the ground-breaking research and development work that had been carried out.

Digital experts teamed up with some of the region’s biggest tourist attractions, including The Roman Baths, We the Curious, M Shed and Millennium Square to demonstrate the ground-breaking potential of 5G for the tourism sector.

The project held two region-wide showcases that attracted hundreds of visitors to experience the future of visitor attractions, including a live demonstration at the Bristol Harbour Festival. Across the events, visitors enjoyed a glimpse of a 5G future using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), 3D motion tracking, and 4k 360º content streaming. Behind the scenes, 5G enabled network slicing was developed to prioritise connectivity for incident response in the case of a public emergency.

5G Use cases

The BBC presents an exciting opportunity to test the capabilities of 5G in a visitor attraction setting (The Roman Baths). The use case offers a ‘window through time’ and interactive visitor experiences by investigating different technical approaches. Video and images make up the VR experience to transport the user through time. This use case investigates two technical approaches to stress different aspects of 5G performance.

Zeetta Networks shows how 5G technology can be used to enhance the planning, management and incident response within an urban setting. This is of particular use at large public gatherings, such as festivals, concerts or fairs. An essential characteristic in defining a 5G network is the ability to provide a unified view of the network’s architecture for control, slicing and orchestration.

The product aims to bring the experience to life and give tourists the ability to experience and walk around a high-quality representation of a place in VR, while physically walking around a real indoor space, without the burden of wearing uncomfortably heavy hardware.

The product consists of a VR headset with a tracking system attached, retro-reflective stickers stuck to the ceiling of the physical space for the system to track, and a wireless 5Ghz up and downlink to communicate between the headset and a remote server running the experience.

To track the tourists as they walk around freely in the physical world while exploring the virtual world, the product incorporates a 6DOF (position and angle) positioning device using StarTracker technology.

Mativision is using 5G to overcome barriers in current technology. They have developed a product that allows many users to experience the same VR reality at the same time. The purpose of this product is to assess how this technology can perform when a 5G networking infrastructure is used, and to what extent those limitations can be overcome.

Smartify’s goal for the project is to implement digital initiatives that can deliver a better pre- during and post-visit visitor experience that not only secures lasting connection with the venue and maximizes the ROI but, more importantly, provides a better engagement with younger audiences who currently expect a digital interaction on the sites.


  •  March 2018 – September 2019


  • DCMS funding: £5m
  • Total project value: £ 8m


  • 3-Sixty
  • Aardman
  • BBC R&D
  • BT
  • Bath and North East Somerset council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Bristol Futures Global
  • Bristol Is Open
  • Bristol VR Lab
  • Business West
  • CCS
  • Destination Bristol
  • Digital Catapult
  • IBI
  • Interdigital
  • Landmrk
  • Mativision
  • Mo – sys
  • M-Shed
  • Smartify
  • The Grand Appeal
  • University of Bristol
  • Watershed
  • Zeetta Networks