La Trobe University launches Nuro

As the National Gallery of Victoria’s Learning Partner for the NGV Triennial 2020, La Trobe University today launches Nuro, an online experience that helps users reach an open, curious mindset known as ‘relaxed alertness’.

Nuro draws on La Trobe research in education, psychology and interactive visualisation. Throughout its development La Trobe has worked closely with the NGV as the Gallery prepares to open the NGV Triennial.

Nuro users open an online portal where they follow visual spheres through a series of virtual worlds, experimenting with shape, colour, texture, and movement.

The virtual environment, user actions and in-game logic of Nuro were designed in collaboration with La Trobe academics to help users find a state of flow and become completely immersed and involved in a task through a state of relaxed alertness into their next experience.

According to Tony Ellwood AM, Director of the NGV and La Trobe distinguished alumni, said: “La Trobe University is a valued learning partner of the NGV and this exciting new initiative created in collaboration with researchers at the university is a testament to their commitment to innovation across disciplines”.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of good mental health, and tested our ability to focus in the face of global upheaval.

“Nuro harnesses La Trobe’s expertise in a range of research fields. It is an innovative tool that people can use anywhere, anytime on their mobile phone, to find a sense of flow. Its many applications could include preparing for an exam or helping focus ahead of a sports’ game.”

Professor Dewar said it was inspiring to see how University expertise had added an extra dimension for the community to enjoy alongside the NGV Triennial.

La Trobe academics who contributed to Nuro’s development were Associate Professor Craig Deed, psychology researcher Dr Laila Hugrass and immersive technologies expert Dr Richard Skarbez.

Associate Professor Deed researches ways spatial experiences can spark collaboration and learning. He said Nuro was unlike any other project he had been involved with.

“We’ve created a unique tool that takes you from being aware of what and who is around you, to fully inhabiting your own mindspace.”

He said research supported the team’s opinion that when Nuro users reached a state of flow, the parts of their brain responsible for judgement, sense of time and sense of self would slow down and neurochemicals enhance attention and motivation would become keenly focused.

“A flow state can be achieved through an activity that stimulates both the creative and functional parts of the brain, features predictable patterns, and where the level of difficulty matches the user’s level of skill and attention. Nuro applies similar concepts in a digital setting,” Associate Professor Deed said.

Nuro will be launched with the opening of NGV Triennial, running from 19 December 2020. Visit: https://playnuro.latrobe.edu.au/#/

 

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