Reality Emulator

The world’s first large-scale, interdisciplinary, configurable, emulation facility to drive digital solutions for more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous digital futures.

What is it?

The Reality Emulator is a sector-agnostic digital twin that can enable the creation of future digital solutions through novel experience-based, iterative approaches.

The new globally unique facility will provide access to a rich environment of real-world research and experimentation platforms, advanced and emerging telecommunications technologies, open data platforms, powerful data centre infrastructure and immersive experience environments. Local and remote teams will have the opportunity to experience and interact with digital models of physical worlds, for example a smart city, a 6G network, a digital factory, a transport infrastructure or a health system, and collaborate towards the creation of future digital solutions.

Why is it special?

The Reality Emulator is a world first sector-agnostic digital twin.  It will harness ultra-high performance network connectivity, sensors and actuators together with reconfigurable, programmable computing and the additional capability to host new technologies emerging from research labs. It will offer multi-user, multipurpose, multisensory, interactive immersive capabilities that will enable the development of new experience-based innovation methodologies. The facility will allow real time data monitoring, and analysis and creation of 3D visualisation models, which enable collaborative experimentation, iterative design and development of new scenarios on a scale and in a way not previously possible. 

How does it work?

The Reality Emulator will host advanced and emerging technologies, connect to established and new digital testbeds, and provide access diverse real-time and historic data from a multiplicity of sources. The data it ingests could be of any type, infrastructure, financial, health, logistics, manufacturing, social media, environmental etc. Wherever this comes from, whether it is a vast or small dataset, quantitative or qualitative, the Reality Emulator can consolidate, analyse and use it to train Artificial Intelligence models and create scalable digital models of future scenarios to be experienced by end-users.     

Interdisciplinary, cross-sector teams will be able to access and share their experiences in our multi-person immersive environments which allow real-time interaction with the digital model in a virtual multi-sensory environment. What is more, others can join in by accessing the same scenarios in real time via VR or AR headsets, whether next door, at collaborator offices, or at locations across in the globe.

By being fully reconfigurable and programmable teams can iteratively make changes to their technology, systems or context and see how it alters potential outcomes and ultimately drive optimisation of their digital futures scenario.  

The Reality Emulator’s capability does not stop there. It will be enhanced by connections to a range of physical test beds and laboratories including Smart City (Bristol City Scale Network), Highways, Ports and Freeports (M4/M5 & Avonmouth), High Value Manufacturing (Bristol and Bath Science Park), Laboratories (Smart Internet Lab Bristol), and Digital Catapult (London). It will also benefit from national and international connectivity via academic networks which will bring in other academic and industry research labs. 

What difference will it make?

The Reality Emulator will help us to gain new insights on the challenges and opportunities brought by future digital technologies. With its powerful ‘virtual production' capabilities, impressive data processing and analytics, ultra-high -performance networks, connections to regional and national test-beds and labs, and its multisensory immersive capabilities the Reality Emulator provides an unrivalled, infinitely flexible facility to drive digital innovation on an unprecedented scale. 

From citizen co-creation of cities, future mobile networks research,  test-driving the digital transformation in manufacturing, exploring the potential of smart classrooms, to helping planners understand societal responses to pandemics – the Reality Emulator offers researchers, industry, governments to communities, a potent new tool to build prosperous, inclusive and sustainable digital futures that benefit us all.

 Reality Emulator High Level Architecture

 Diagram 1: Reality Emulator High Level Architecture

Get involved

The Reality Emulator is being built in 2022-23. Want to be involved in our pilot work or talk to us about how you might use it? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at

Artist impression of the reality emulator
Impression of the reality emulator Image credit: University of Bristol
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