Future Screens NI – Future Creatives Award

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On the 17th November 2020 Future Screens NI announced a scheme to award 20 researchers in the creative industries a bursary of £5,000 to …

enable participants to make a step change in their research and innovation by enhanced leadership and collaboration skills and developing new practices in the field of creativity and technology.

Future Screens Website


On 2nd Feb 2021 Professor Paul Moore, the director of Future Screens NI met with the 20 awardees via a Zoom meeting. I am deeply honoured to be among the 20 researchers who won this award. 

My work is dominated by participatory design methodologies. This means I design software with musicians with disabilities rather than for. During a global pandemic this is very tricky. We have been working hard using Zoom and screen sharing but eventually the musicians will need to evaluate the software in a more in depth manner. 

This award will allow me to purchase extra VR equipment (HMD’s and gaming laptops) to enable the participants in this research to fully engage with the design process. A simple 2D desktop design might be possible using screen sharing but my project involves VR and embodied metaphors of music. It is nearly impossible for musicians with disabilities to fully describe their embodied experiences without experiencing the immersivity of VR in this project. This will all be possible because WithFeel VR is designed for ensemble performance, i.e. it is networked.

Tech purchases like these don’t come lightly. They will be around after my PhD is finished and will allow us to continue our research into the future with new accessible methods of music creation and performance.

Industry Mentor Deepa Mann-Kler

Future Screens NI’s strategy is to link academic and industry partners within the creative industries. To this end they require all awardees to have an industry or academic partner. As an academic I am extremely lucky to have Deepa Mann-Kler as my industry mentor.

As an experienced artist Deepa brings a great deal of creativity, skill and knowledge to the table. As if that wasn’t enough, Deepa is also the Chief Executive of Neon. Neon have produced award winning immersive experiences that have a strong social conscience. With this experience and background I have no doubt that I will learn a great deal from Deepa. Deepa is also a Tedx speaker and a member of the General Medical Council (GMC).

The launch

You can learn more about this funding call, Future Screens NI and my work in this video at the launch of the call.

Avatar for Lewis Smith

Lewis Smith is a performer, composer, programmer and academic. His current research is in accessible composition and performance practices using immersive technologies. Smith is coming towards the end of PhD at Ulster University and is the creator of WithFeel VR.


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