Salford Professor appearing at World’s Premiere Tech Festival

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

The biggest Tech Festival in the world, South by Southwest 2023 (SXSW), will have a Greater Manchester flavour this year with a virtual appearance from an academic from the University of Salford.

This week is the beginning of SXSW 2023, the world’s biggest digital technology festival held annually in Austin, Texas showcasing the most important breakthroughs in technology, film, culture, and music, with global thought leaders giving keynotes on diverse topics, from sports to arts.

For the first time, Greater Manchester has a major presence at the festival and joining the programme at UK House is Professor Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication and Future Media at the University of Salford, speaking about the Metaverse, as part of an event that will explore how immersive technologies are changing the entertainment industry. In true metaverse style he will appear as an avatar to give his talk, rather than fly out to Austin, linking up with university partner company PixelMax for an in-world conversation about the future of technology.

Prof Miah said “The Metaverse is the next evolution of the Internet, every bit as important as the creation of the world wide web itself. We’ve been imagining the possibility of living in virtual reality for some years and now, that’s becoming a possibility. The days of websites and social media may well be numbered, as people rush to create their own metaverse real estate”

The University of Salford’s presence in this digital revolution is part of a wider research initiative brought together by the university’s Metaverse Special Interest Group. Academics have recently started working with PixelMax on creating the world’s first ‘digital twin’ of the University of Salford in the Metaverse, which is bringing together researchers from across the four schools to explore the opportunities created by designing alternate worlds, ushering in a new era for digital experiences.

These investments are part of a commitment to working with Salford City Council, and Peel Media to launch a new chapter in MediaCity’s history, as a leading centre for immersive technology research, development, and innovation.

Stephen Wild, MD of MediaCity said: “We’re really proud of MediaCity’s reputation for helping companies scale up next generation digital experiences and the metaverse is at the forefront of these new opportunities. As TV, film, and gaming converge, we’re excited to be working closely with the University of Salford to bring cutting edge creative solutions to the most difficult challenges.”

Speaking ahead of the SXSW event organized by Beth Johnson (Umbrella), Professor Andy Miah said: “Everyone’s heard about the Metaverse, but many people still don’t quite know what it is or how they get involved. By championing what we’re doing in Greater Manchester to design and imagine these new spaces, we’ll share how the metaverse will transform how we all interact with digital worlds”.

“As the world rushes to design the new architecture of the Metaverse, we’re working hard to figure out how we can implement it into our everyday lives in a way that’s responsible, sustainable, and inclusive. At SXSW, I will introduce the idea that embracing the Metaverse is a moral imperative that is necessary to expand the way we work, learn, and play and this is especially important when realising that the metaverse will be driven by a huge number of artificially intelligent tools.”

Professor Miah’s recently published “The Moral Metaverse: Establishing an Ethical Foundation for XR Design” (Routledge). (available on request).

SXSW 2023 begins on Friday 10 March and runs until Sunday 19 March and the University of Salford is extremely proud to be representing the Greater Manchester area at this level.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.