12 Aug 2020

Meet our Spring 2020 teams: Also Known As

By Will Spurr

It’s time to meet the first-class teams that took part in our Spring 2020 tech for good programme.

Today, meet Also Known As, a storytelling, research and design studio creating real stories in virtual worlds. With roots in journalism, documentary filmmaking and human-centred design, they are exploring the power of immersive technology to shape interactive story experiences that are truly transformational.



The Founders 

Aela Callan and Kate Parkinson met as undercover journalists in Myanmar. Based on personal experience, they set out to better equip journalists for physical and emotional threats, enabling them to perform their vital role in upholding democracy. 


How does it work? 

Also Known As is building an immersive learning ecosystem for journalists which supports their safety and mental resilience against current threats.  It includes dynamic virtual reality experiences which give users’ real-time biometric feedback, map their progress over time and allow for remote training. By practising high-pressure scenarios in a virtual space where mistakes are free, journalists can develop skills up to 4 times faster and with 40% more confidence than classroom learning. 


What’s the problem being solved? 

2020 has seen an unprecedented number of attacks on journalists, both physically and online. Current hostile environment and first aid training is costly, time consuming and inadequate to mitigate the rapidly evolving risks they face. Immersive learning developed for journalists by journalists, drawing on the advice of relevant experts, provides greater flexibility, lower costs and improved training outcomes at scale.  VR training for hostile environments has huge scope to be useful beyond journalism in the humanitarian and disaster response sectors.  


How do they make money?

Licensing to media companies. They have already generated serious interest and are co-designing and testing with CNN, BBC, ITN, Vice, AFP and Reuters. Not only can news organisations upskill and reskill journalists quickly, more effectively and at a lower cost; but they can also undertake high-risk training remotely, which favours the decentralised structure of modern news companies. 


Aela and Kate

Aela Callan and Kate Parkinson


How are they getting on? 

Their current priority is product development. At present, they’re developing a scenario to train journalists for protests that will be trialled with news organisations later this year. Each experience is being developed around a core that can be adapted rapidly to suit the context-specific needs of its deployment. In 2021, they aim to raise a seed round to scale their offering. 


How can you get involved?

AKA are looking for value-aligned collaborators who share their passion for protecting journalists and journalism against mounting challenges. Whilst they have already generated a huge amount of interest amongst future users, they’re keen to connect with people who have experience in rolling out immersive technology products at scale. 


AKA Studio 2



Banner Photo Credits: Stephen Sorkin. License: Unsplash.