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This section shows some of the most relevant activities carried out within the scope of the ContactVIRT project. If you would like more information about our activities please contact us. More information is available in the Join Us section.

Flyer of the podcast episode

Cordiscovery podcast

June 2021

"Is there a virtual reality revolution around the corner?" With this intriguing question, the Cordiscovery podcast (Cordis EU) focuses on the potential of VR for aspects beyond entertainment that include the transformation of society as we know. Salvador Alvidrez speaks about the ContactVIRT project and about the potential of VR for reducing conflict and instilling empathy, whereas Veronica Orvalho talks about hyper-realistic avatars brought by Didimo, and Sergi Fernandez describes how avatars can be obsolete in the next few years. The podcast is available here.

A wall with some paintings on it

Article in Research*EU

June 2021

Research*eu, the CORDIS magazine that analyses EU-funded projects, has published the article "Making contact in cyberspace: could Virtual Reality help foster a common sense of identity?", which describes the potential of virtual reality for reducing sectarian prejudice in Northern Ireland. The article was published in the number 103 of the magazine and it is available here.

Woman reading a book in a lake

New publication on intergroup contact in VR for reducing prejudice

June 2021

The article "Contact in VR: Testing avatar customization and common ingroup identity cues on outgroup bias reduction" analyses the relevance of avatars' appearance and their influence on the way users talk to users from ethnic minorities. The article was published in the Annual Review of Cybertherapy and Telemedicine, and it is available here.

Man sitting in a field while reading a book

New publication on virtual reality

April 2021

The article "Verbal mimicry predicts social distance and social attraction to an outgroup member in virtual reality" explores the extent to which adjusting conversations with interaction partners can reduce prejudice towards an ethnic minority in virtual reality. The article was presented in the IEEE 3rd International Conference on Artificial Intelligence & Virtual Reality, December 2020, and it is available here.

Screenshot of the virtual TV set of Would I Lie to ALL of You?

Being Human Festival 2020

November 2020

In collaboration with the Community Relations Council and the Culture Lab exhibition (Making the Future), the ContactVIRT project participated in the Being Human Festival 2020, which is the largest festival of the humanities in the UK. The participation consisted in streaming an alternative version of the BBC's TV show that takes place in a virtual reality environment. This pre-recorded show brought two teams, "Greens" and "Oranges" representing the two largest religious communities in Northern Ireland, into a quiz competition for guessing if the opposite team was lying or telling the truth.

The event was streamed in Zoom in the 19th of November and received very positive feedback. The main objective of the activity was demonstrating that virtual reality can be a feasible option for stimulating harmonious inter-community interactions, which is alligned to the purposes and values of the three collaborating partners.

You can watch the video here:

Would I Lie to ALL of You? (for Being Human Festival 2020) 

Reel of VR interaction

Good Relations Week 2020 | Progress Report Phase 1 Video

September 2020

We proudly presented our progress report during the Good Relations Week 2020. You can see the video at the Home page.

A teenager is holding a VR headset made of cardboard

Virtual Reality Challenging Sectarian Prejudice | Queen’s University Belfast (press release)

May 2020

The Community Relations Council (CRC) published an article about the ContactVIRT project in its monthly newsletter. The article can be seen here.

People working around a table

Phase 1: Inductive Stage

February 2020

In this inductive stage of the project a series of group interviews were carried out with the participation of QUB students and community members, who talked about their experiences and expectations of inter-community interactions. Through a series of open calls and invitations to community development organisations, members from different communities in Belfast and other regions of Northern Ireland contributed to the interviews.

Salvador presenting his poster at the Fellowship Academy launch

QUB Fellowship Academy launch

January 2020

In January 2020 Queen's University launched the Fellowship Academy, a network of research fellows recruited through different fellowship schemes. The Principal Investigator presented a poster detailing the ContactVIRT project and shared a virtual reality demo with the attendees. The presentation was attended by other researchers in the network, QUB's Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ian Green, and Prof. Emma Flynn, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise among others.

Salvador in a selfie with researchers at Sheffield University

Talk at the University of Sheffield

January 2020

The Principal Investigator delivered a talk at Sheffield University about how virtual reality technologies can support for reducing ethnic and sectarian prejudice. The talk was attended by staff and postgraduate researchers of the Psychology Department, who not only had the opportunity to learn about this emerging line of research but also provided some valuable feedback for the design of the ContactVIRT project.

Salvador in a presentation at the CRC

Presentation of the ContactVIRT project at the CRC

November 2019

Before the end of the secondment at the Community Relations Council, a presentation of the progress made by the ContactVIRT project during the last quarter of 2019 took place at the premises. The presentation was attended by Jacqueline Irwin, Chief Executive Officer, Peter Day, Director of Community Engagement, and most of the CRC staff, who learned about the details of the project and about the importance of a two-way collaboration between academy and community work.

Many students at a large room watching an online presentation

Semana de la Comunicación (Communication Week)

November 2019

The Principal Investigator participated as an online keynote speaker in the "Semana de la Comunicación" (Communication Week), which is an academic event coordinated by the Faculty of Communication of the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon (UANL), Mexico. Dr Alvidrez' talk focused on how virtual reality technology can favour prejudice reduction towards ethnic minorities, and presented some initial details from the ContactVIRT project in the context of Northern Ireland.

Salvador delivers a talk at the Jethro Centre

Presentation of the ContactVIRT project at the Shared Learning Forum

October 2019

The ContactVIRT project was presented at the Shared Learning Forum, which is an event aiming to communicate the positive results reached by community development organisations. Practitioners, contract holders, and community workers not only had the opportunity to learn about the project, but they were also asked to become an active part of it by participating in its studies and sharing their own expertise.

Collage of pictures with people attending events

Good Relations Week

September 2019

The Good Relations Week is a series of events coordinated by the Community Relations Council that take place every year in September, and which aim to sustain good relationships across the community. As a part of a research secondment, the Principal Investigator had the opportunity to attend many of these events and to learn from the work of many organisations across Belfast and Northern Ireland, and to create a network of contacts for the ContactVIRT project.