Zeeko secures €100,000 for VR health study

Pictured: Dr Marina Everri, Zeeko, with Cian Sheehy (11)

7 November 2017

EdTech start-up Zeeko has secured €100,000 in funding through the Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate Programme to study the side effects of virtual reality on school children’s health.

The project will recruit teachers, parents and children, aged 10 to 12 years, through primary schools.

Children’s activities with VR will be video recorded in different everyday life scenarios, such as lessons at school, completing homework and leisure time. The recordings will then be discussed with the children to explore their subjective experiences to see what they did and did not like.

Parents and teachers will also be involved in group discussions and interviews to examine their opinions, interests and concerns about the potential of VR as an educational tool.

The project will be led by Dr Marina Everri, a social psychologist and head of research at Zeeko. Dr Everri has worked as a researcher and family psychotherapist in academia and in organisations, in Italy and in the UK, and joins Zeeko from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“In reality very little is known about the impact of VR on body, cognition, and social relations, especially during a child’s development,” said Dr Everri.

“More research, such as the research we are about to commence, is needed to understand the interplay of children’s individual characteristics, their relational and cultural context, and the opportunities and challenges offered by VR technology.

“This will be done by examining VR side effects in the areas of education, environment behaviour, empathy and health directly involving children, their families and teachers at each stage of the research process. This will allow us to find the best solutions for children, their families and teachers.”

Joe Kenny, CEO and founder, Zeeko, said: “We plan to complete this research project in Ireland by September 2018, and our plan is to thereafter expand the project to the UK and Italy as well as other European countries. The aim of the project is to identify side effects of VR technology and to create an innovative solution to any nascent problems identified with VR. This compliments our plan to develop a new educational platform to support children’s critical thinking and discovery of solutions to risky online situations.”

Headquartered at NovaUCD, Zeeko is an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up company.

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