Man wearing VR headset used in healthcare

Cross reality applications research

Explore our cross reality applications research, one of our areas of expertise in Digital and Creative Technologies

Extended or Cross Reality (XR) systems are immersive technologies that bring physical objects into digital environments and take digital objects into physical reality. XR includes hardware and software used to create virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR) and cinematic reality (CR). Our research helps overcome barriers to the use of this emerging technology so it can integrate seamlessly into everyone's daily life.

Our research looks at how XR systems influence human experience and how the design of XR systems and software affects perception and behaviour. For example, we look at whether spending extended periods of time using VR might affect the way a user perceives the real-world or whether their peripheral vision is affected. We have, for example, discovered that a 15 minute session with a VR headset where the image is predominantly green can result in the user experiencing the real-world with a pink hue for a while after removing the headset.

We're also exploring whether audiovisual information in VR overrides our physical senses. Tests reveal that when using VR participants can perform physically uncomfortable tasks for longer before feeling pain. This indicates that VR could be used for pain management, including to distract patients when undergoing painful treatment. Our work will also explore the potential of VR as an alternative treatment for conditions such as phobias, which could alleviate pressure on health care resources.

Our research also looks at using XR for training purposes to see whether XR is more effective and efficient at delivering information to workforces than traditional approaches such as using a presenter.

We use controlled experiments, case studies, observational analysis and think-aloud protocols to study how people interact with XR technology in order to develop better software. We investigate the effectiveness of equipment and explore the impact of technological set up on users' experiences. For instance, by analysing whether a VR headset connected to a PC is more effective than a mobile system.

Our research covers the following topics

  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Mixed Reality (MR)
  • Extended or Cross Reality (XR)
  • Physical and psychological rehabilitation
  • Cultural heritage
  • Mixed-reality theatre
  • Auditory perception in VR
  • VR simulations for healthcare
  • Perception in VR
  • Behaviour in XR
  • Training and Education in XR
  • Sound in VR, AR, MR and XR


Our research makes use of the following facilities within the School of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) and other departments across the University.

  • Large-screen stereoscopic VR display system
  • Consumer VR and AR headsets
  • Haptic feedback devices
  • Motion capture cameras
  • Treadmill interfaced to VR system
  • Physiological sensors including EEG and EMG
  • Music and sound studios

Discover our areas of expertise

Cross reality applications is one of 7 areas of expertise within the Digital and Creative Technologies research area. Explore the others below.

Interested in a PhD in Digital & Creative Technologies?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Digital & Creative Technologies postgraduate research degrees page.