Blackburn University student receives scholarship for his work in virtual reality

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A psychology student has been awarded an Edge Hill Excellence Scholarship for advancing the department’s research in virtual reality.

Juris Savostijanovs, from Blackburn, in his third year of undergraduate studies, combines his passion for cyberpsychology and digital technologies with his programming expertise and experience as a support worker.

Juris works on the transfer of real experiences into their digital versions, encompassing 2D, 3D and virtual reality.

He said: “Virtual and augmented reality is a breakthrough technology that allows us to deliver immersive and engaging experiences that go beyond the boundaries of the physical realm.

“Because it’s realistic, it allows us to transfer ourselves into fantastical, hyper-realistic landscapes of otherworldly vistas. These are simply inaccessible with typical flat panel technologies.

Juris Savostijanovs, from Blackburn, received a grant for his work in virtual reality

“The implications for research are vast, with the potential to benefit people with social anxiety, PTSD, poor mental health, and those who lack communication skills.”

He has produced applications related to ‘theory of mind’ – the ability to interpret, predict and empathize with others.

One of the applications tested by students at Edge Hill University involved the user drumming in virtual reality to a well-known beat from a song while being paired. Synchronized movements have been shown to elicit selfless and positive attitudes towards others.

Juris’ £1,000 scholarship was a reinvestment in her education, helping her buy a wearable VR headset to enable remote research in specialist departments and schools.

Juris’ tutor, Dr. Gray Atherton, added: “Juris is not just a gifted student; he also possesses exemplary interpersonal skills and a strong desire to improve the world.

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