Virtual Nature is go!

It’s fantastic to formally announce the beginning of this project, which marks the start of an exciting journey of research and exploration.

We’re hoping to develop new knowledge of how immersive digital experiences can impact health, and will be using the latest tools and equipment to answer our key research questions.

But Virtual Nature is far from a study about technology. Widening participation in nature-based experiences sits at the heart of this project, as does a fundamental desire to better understand how the natural environment can affect wellbeing.

In considering how virtual reality might help to fulfil these goals, the hardware and software used to create these experiences will be viewed as mediums of delivery, rather than the focus of the research. Given the rapidly evolving capabilities of virtual and augmented worlds, this approach is essential if our findings are to inform future developments in this area.

Equally important to the project’s success will be ensuring a broad array of people feed into its design and analysis. We want to explore how cultural connections to the natural world might influence restorative potential, and can only achieve this by listening to (and learning from) people’s lived experience.

This website is designed to provide a transparent insight into the research and will provide timely updates on its progress. The resources and information available here will grow as the project does, so please do keep checking back for latest news and details of how to get involved.

Several crucial factors had to come together to make this project possible, and it owes its existence to guidance from Dr Mathew White, Prof Nick Groom and Dr Ann Grand, as well as support from everyone at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health.

The study is inspired by the brilliant work of Nicky Yeo and fuelled by infectious enthusiasm from Prof Lora Fleming.

Let’s begin!

Alex Smalley