We’re delighted to share that we organized and cohost the first XR Research Awards with 319 applications and 89 high-quality proposals. The XRRA provided a new opportunity for researchers and content creators to apply to a €50,000 fund to study behaviour in VR and promote the use of objective data to understand human behavioural responses in VR.

Video Player



Virtual and Augmented reality (collectively called XR) is a core aspect of the metaverse and will shape many aspects of our lives. This includes entertainment, virtual social interaction, training and wellbeing/ healthcare. However, for XR to fulfil its potential, it is vital that developments are built on a strong foundation of research. Recall how the launch of the App Store cause thousands of apps to be released, including for healthcare but which had very little evidence of effectiveness. At the same time, for XR to be more widely adopted, it’s important that the content is high quality and engaging. The idea for the XR Research came from a desire to address these two issues. By incentivising and supporting both researchers and content creators, we aim to emphasise the importance of measuring what matters to end-users of immersive experiences.

We envision that the XRRA will be at least an annual opportunity for us to help to kickstart interesting projects that are too small for large grant-funded projects or too risky/ experimental for commercial companies. We hope that the outputs from an XRRA award would provide the winner with material (data/ proof of concept/ methodology) that is suitable for further funding. This could be via investment or R&D funding.

“Emteq Labs is proud to support researchers who are looking to use VR as a research laboratory to study human behaviour. We are happy to partner with leaders in the fields of hardware, physiological monitoring, and data analytics so that academic or commercial researchers and content creators can get accurate information on how people respond to VR.”

The Awards targeted worldwide researchers, content creators or individuals affiliated with academic, research, clinical, rehabilitation, or commercial organisations. To be eligible, proposals had to integrate biosensors to provide for objective outcome measures. The awards provide cash, equipment and support for projects.

Of the 319 applications and 89 proposals, twelve solutions stood out. The finalists were judged by leaders in the fields of scientific research, biosignals, safety and business. The proposals were judged on the following criteria: focus on validating the effectiveness of VR, team collaboration, working with partners in two or more organisations and having clear defined outputs.

The winners are:

1st prize: “The impact of social reciprocity on attitudes and behaviour in virtual social interactions” by Dr Leon Kroczek, Dipl.-Psych.

“Face-to-face interactions are a fundamental part of our life and Virtual Reality is a promising tool to study social behaviour. The XRRA award allows us to take VR research on social interactions to the next level by implementing an ecologically valid, real-time interaction paradigm based on eye gaze and facial expressions. This project will advance our understanding of social behaviour during real-time social interactions.” commented Leon Kroczek, the winner of the 1st prize

In addition to the 2 runner up awards, an additional runner up prize was given this year due to the number of quality submissions.

1st runner up prize: “Development of a framework for emotional audio research (EAR) that uses biofeedback to deepen the immersive experience through the real-time integration of data from various biosensor inputs, which adaptively modify and enhance auditory content” by Richard Warp, Producer and Composer at Pollen VR, London

2nd runner up prize: “Investigating the Effectiveness of Treating Pain and Anxiety with Virtual Reality Using Physiological Data” by Omer Liran, Co-director of Virtual Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles

3rd additional runner up prize award went to the proposal for “Augmented Interoception: Parameters of Pain” by Hamid Ghaednia, Research Scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

The judges were very impressed by the number and calibre of submissions to this first XR Research Awards. There’s tremendous excitement in the metaverse, but clearly, more research is needed to ensure that XR is rolled out safely and with a strong evidence base. We are delighted to announce that the XR Research Awards will continue in 2022, and we invite entrants to register for the new competition at www.xrra.net” commented Dr Charles Nduka, CEO and Scientist of Emteq Labs

The XR Research awards are in partnership with leading organisations promoting quality, safety, and research. These include the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Association (VRARA), the XR Safety Initiative (XRSI), MedVR, the International Virtual Reality Healthcare Association (IVRHA), The International Society for Virtual Rehabilitation (ISVR), the XR Distributed Research Network (XRDRN), VR Healthcare, AWE and VR days. The judges include leading researchers in the fields of VR plus representatives from the industry sponsors Emteq Labs, Cognitive3D, Pico and Plux Wireless Biosignals.

We look forward to staying in touch and seeing new entrants at the upcoming XRRA competition at www.xrra.net