Passengers on board the West Midlands Metro will now be able to travel back in time thanks to a new 360 mobile experience.
Specially created for the Birmingham 2022 Festival, and in time for the start of the Commonwealth Games, Time Travel Tram uses cutting edge technology to transform an everyday tram journey into an exciting, shared experience that can be enjoyed by anyone with a smartphone and headphones on any West Midlands Metro tram between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Accessed by scanning a QR code available on board, Time Travel Tram, invites people to discover the people and places that moulded Birmingham and the Black Country into the vibrant and industrious place it is today. The five chapters, which can be viewed in any order, explore everything from weird and wonderful pastimes of West Midlanders in Blowing Off Steam to the frolics and fashion of the past in Spirit of Youth. The experience encompasses 300 million years from pre-historic forests, fire and factories to the birthplace of the industrial revolution.
The experience has been created by immersive media specialists Surfing Lightbeams and Crossover Labs using archive film, photographs and objects combined with mesmerising 3D generated worlds. Accompanying it is an original soundtrack composed by local artists.
Harmeet Chagger-Khan of Surfing Light Beams said: “Our ambition for Time Travel Tram was to catapult living history into the 21st Century and to transform an everyday tram journey into an incredible shared immersive experience. For the price of a regular tram ticket anyone can enjoy our virtual tram experience and be transported back into the past of Birmingham and the Black Country. We’ve enjoyed delving into the past and can’t wait for people to start enjoying Time Travel Tram on their journeys.”
Louisa Davies, Senior Producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival said: “Surfing Light Beams and Crossover Labs have created an incredible and exciting visual and audio experience that invites anyone and everyone to explore the region’s past in an inventive way. With both the Commonwealth Games and the school summer holidays about to start we’re delighted that Time Travel Tram can be enjoyed by visitors to the West Midlands and families looking for a fun day out with a difference.”
Time Travel Tram can also be experienced remotely as Mark Atkin of Crossover Labs explains: “Time Travel Tram can also be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere in the world. If you can’t get to Birmingham to experience Time Travel Tram, you can still access the 360 experience at home on a mobile device, a VR headset or on a computer through the Chrome browser or YouTube app.”
Surfing Light Beams and Crossover Labs were originally commissioned to create an immersive experience that would turn the front carriage of a single tram into a giant VR headset by using specially modified transparent LCD screens that synced to the real-world using GPS. The suspension of the West Midlands Metro earlier this year has meant that while the project couldn’t continue as originally planned due to the complex repairs of the trams, the project has been adapted so it can be enjoyed as 360 mobile experience across all of the West Midlands Metro.
Sophie Allison, Interim Managing Director of West Midlands Metro said: “We are delighted that Time Travel Tram will be available across the West Midlands Metro to passengers during the Commonwealth Games and beyond. Although we are unable to proceed with the project as originally planned the adapted experience means that even more travellers will now be able to enjoy Time Travel Tram via their mobile devices across the fleet.”
Time Travel Tram is presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival with generous support from Arts Council England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
Time Travel Tram is available from 25 July until 31 October 2022. For further information visit timetraveltram.com