By Eimear Dodd Journalism MA student, @TheCity_Dublin editor, @Irish_TechNews

A new interactive experience at London’s Natural History Museum will allow visitors to experience a world-first in interactive virtual reality (VR). Users will get ‘hands-on’ access to rare objects, while a three-dimensional hologram of Sir David Attenborough offers his own unique insight that will bring each specimen to life.

“I have enjoyed helping people to discover more about the natural world, and Hold the World offers people a unique opportunity: to examine rare objects, some millions of years old, up close. It represents an extraordinary new step in how people can explore and experience nature, all from the comfort of their own homes and I am delighted to be able to help users uncover some of the treasures the Natural History Museum has to offer in a thrilling new way.” said Sir David Attenborough.

In Hold the World, Sir David will be transformed into a hologram who will guide visitors while they virtually ‘handle’ fossils at the Natural History Museum. The cutting-edge technology will allow users to hold up, peer inside, tilt and look more closely at the objects, which include fossils, bones and skulls from the museum’s world-famous collection.

Hold the World
will offer people the opportunity to explore one of the world’s top cultural institutions in the company of the world’s leading natural history broadcaster. More than five million people visit the Natural History Museum annually. It is also a world-leading science research centre.

Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, said: “We are always looking for innovative ways to share our collection, and Hold the World offers the chance to explore it as never before. Objects in the Museum collection offer invaluable insight about the origins of life, the Earth and our solar system – stories that are key to understanding how we can best protect our planet’s future. We are delighted to be working with Sky, Sir David Attenborough and Factory 42 to tell these stories using the very latest technology.”

Hold the World is the first fully interactive production from Sky. The new VR experience has been commissioned by the Sky VR Studio and will be produced by immersive content studio Factory 42, in association with Dream Reality Interactive and Talesmith Films.

The project will directed by Factory 42 co-founder Dan Smith. He is the BAFTA winning director of Sir David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive 3D for Sky. Hold the World is scheduled to go into production later this year.

Gary Davey, Managing Director for Content at Sky, commented: “Virtual reality is all about experiencing things you could only ever dream of in real life. So in this ground-breaking new experience from Sky, people can handle precious dinosaur fossils and delicate insects with a holographic Sir David Attenborough as their guide. We’re delighted to be bringing together this world-best technology and Sir David, a legend on all things nature, to make this ambitious project a reality.”

Sky VR Studio is the entertainment company’s in-house facility for the creation of immersive VR content. The group has more than 21 million customers across Italy, Germany, Austria, the UK and Ireland. Sky has annual revenues of £12 billion and is Europe’s leading investor in television content with a combined programming budget of £5.2 billion. The group employs 30,000 people with more than 850 of these based in Ireland.

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