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Published: 05 October 2018

Technology grant makes VR project reality

A new Computer Science graduate is using the power of virtual reality to help those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Hannah Blair
Hannah Blair

While still a student at Surrey, Hannah Blair won funding of £25,000 from Sky as part of its female technology scholarship programme. Together with two other partners, Hannah has now set up VR-CALM which will use VR to study the effects of horticultural therapy on older people with memory loss, and aims to alleviate common symptoms of dementia, such as depression and anxiety.

Through the Women in Technology Scholars grant, Hannah is also planning to develop an experience that can be used as an educational app for Sky’s #PassOnPlastic campaign, which aims to combat the ever-growing problem of plastic in the ocean.

All this while also working at Deutsche Bank as a software developer!

She said: “I’m very excited by the potential of VR to make a social impact through empathy and education, and this funding from Sky will allow me to get a head-start in bringing the VR experiences I hope to build to life.

“It’s a common misconception that computing can’t involve design and creativity. Of course, you need to know how to code, but once you’ve mastered that, the world’s your oyster in terms of how you apply it. I’m super excited about the potential of the virtual, augmented and mixed reality spaces - I think these technologies will shake up a lot of industries.’’

The Women in Technology Scholars initiative is designed to encourage more women to pursue a career in technology.

Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive of Sky, said: “This is all about giving young women with a passion for tech a real chance of reaching their full potential. There are too few women working in technology. This is a problem that needs resolving, and we’re fully committed to finding that resolution. Our Women in Technology Scholars scheme is a step in the right direction and I’m excited to see how it helps talented women develop their careers.”

Hannah will be one of the guest speakers at our Computer Science Alumni Networking Evening on 19 October at IBM on the South Bank – make sure to book your ticket!

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