The Cloud

The Cloud

The Cloud was an exciting research and development project between Squidsoup and the University. The project sought to produce a system for creating and controlling a physical mist cloud instantaneously that was flexible, safe, quiet and featured straightforward installation. This would be integrated with Squidsoup’s mesmerising light technology to create unforgettable displays.

Squidsoup is a UK-based group which operates globally and specialises in shared immersive experiences. Squidsoup focuses on the augmentation of real spaces with digitally controlled visual overlays which physically affect the space, rather than creating single-user virtual experiences using head-mounted displays.  

Squidsoup worked closely with the team at The Bridge, including Development and Partnership Manager, Rupert Lorraine.

Funding and assistance

The project received funding through Innovate UK’s Audience of the Future: Design Foundations funding competition. Squidsoup and the University were delighted at Innovate UK’s willingness to fund an early-stage innovative project and the remarkable engagement from their Innovate UK Monitoring Officer, Jeremy Klein. The project was also supported by other funding streams including the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) funding and a fellowship grant through the South West Creative Technology Network.

The Bridge were very supportive and helpful, and I hope that we will work again with the University in the future.

Anthony Rowe, Founder and member of Squidsoup

Outcomes and benefits


  • A prototype of the Cloud was created and demonstrated to an audience.
  • The Cloud’s demonstration received excellent feedback from Innovate UK assessors.
  • Large knowledge base was generated around this novel area of development.
  • The Cloud prototype is a unique, exploitable product that could be used in many social events such as theme parks, galleries, and music venues.

Student talent

Squidsoup were assigned a dedicated research assistant, Nicola Beech, a postgraduate student with a BSc in Mechanical Design and Manufacturing at Plymouth.

Nicola benefitted the project greatly through her work, including having devised the mechanism that defined the direction of the project. Through her contributions to the project, Nicola also gained an internal University research profile, an external profile and reputation and was also given the opportunity to participate in exhibitions, conferences, and networks.

“One of the best things about this project has been the truly interdisciplinary nature of the collaboration – bringing together Artists, Technologists and Engineers all of whom have completely different perspectives and approaches”
– Rupert Lorraine, Development and Partnership Manager

Academic expertise and phenomenal facilities

The Cloud project utilised expertise from a wide range of staff at the University which allowed exploration of many avenues for innovation.  

Leading the University’s academic team was Dr Antony Robotham who specialises in virtual engineering technologies. He was supported by Adam Kyte: founder and manager of DesignFlow. DesignFlow are a consultancy and research group based at the University focusing on engineering design and industrial computational fluid dynamics which provided specialist engineering assistance. Aiding the design aspects were Professor Mike Phillips (Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts) and Professor Chris Bennewith (Interim Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business). 

Through collaborating with the University, the project had access to engineering labs, 3D workshops and studio spaces in which to develop and test prototypes.

Creating the Cloud

The project used the Design Council’s Double Diamond approach (Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver) as its research methodology. Extensive research was undertaken, including a literature review and database searches which led to identification of many potential technological solutions for creating clouds. Initial tests were carried out on the best three; then each approach was evaluated, leaving only one.

Following this there was an iterative development process of testing and refining, experimenting with scale, and incorporating with other media (LEDs, lasers, projectors, etc.) to ensure maximum immersive potential. Prototype demonstrators were developed which undertook semi-public tests, from which audience responses were evaluated. Lastly, the final Cloud prototype was produced, shown in a controlled setting, and responses were assessed.

Future of the Cloud

Squidsoup are looking to progress with the Cloud prototype in 2021, by combining it with their innovative sister project Sola, which facilitates cutting edge technology to simulate sunlight.  

The University and Squidsoup are keen to explore future opportunities for collaboration and the ongoing development of the Cloud project.

 

This case study was written by Cassie Turner, a student at the University. Connect with Cassie on LinkedIn.