The overall goal of the SDU Metaverse Lab is to explore and address the challenges and opportunities related to digital technology and virtual environments, and their impact on society, well-being, and economies. Our research is divided into three themes or streams of critical R&D:

Theme 1: Digital and Technical Literacy in Society

A central global challenge is the growing disparity in digital and technical literacy across different segments of society. In a rapidly advancing digital world, a significant portion of the population lacks the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively engage with digital technologies. This gap in digital literacy is not just a matter of technical know-how; it’s a multifaceted issue that affects individuals’ ability to participate in the digital economy, access information, and engage in society at large.

Ensuring that all members of society have the skills and knowledge to thrive in a rapidly changing digital landscape.

This theme focuses on identifying the key challenges and barriers to digital and technical literacy and developing new approaches to address them.

One key area of research is the development of new learning and training programs that are accessible and inclusive for all members of society. This involves the use of gamification or other interactive approaches to engage learners and help them build digital skills and confidence. Additionally, research explores how to promote digital literacy among groups that may face particular challenges, such as older adults or individuals with disabilities.

Another area of research will explore the social and cultural impacts of digital technology and identify strategies for ensuring that these technologies are used in ways that are ethical, equitable, and sustainable. This could involve developing new frameworks for digital citizenship or exploring new models for digital governance that prioritize the needs and perspectives of diverse stakeholders.

Throughout all of this research, a key priority is to ensure that digital and technical literacy efforts are grounded in human-centered design principles and take into account the needs and perspectives of diverse user groups. This involves partnering with community organizations and other stakeholders to develop tailored solutions that are responsive to local contexts and needs.

Finally, research in this theme focuses on exploring the potential of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to support digital and technical literacy efforts. This could involve developing new AI-powered tutoring systems or exploring the use of robotics to provide hands-on learning experiences.

Overall, the research in this theme is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on expertise from fields such as education, computer science, sociology, and anthropology. By working across disciplines, we are able to develop new insights into the challenges and opportunities of digital and technical literacy in society and develop solutions that promote equitable access to digital technologies and support the needs and aspirations of all members of society.

Core challenges:

Identifying the most critical digital and technical literacy skills needed by individuals and groups in society, and how these skills can be fostered and developed.

Design and implement more human-centered digital technologies that are accessible and inclusive for everyone, regardless of their background, abilities, or preferences.

Identifying the key barriers to digital and technical literacy and learning in society, and how to overcome them.


We R&D new solutions across all technological platforms, from robots to AR/VR and beyond. We conduct action research with different populations to identify their digital and technical literacy needs and challenges. We also analyze existing training programs, educational materials, and instructional approaches to assess their effectiveness and identify best practices. Importantly, we collaborate with technology companies, designers, developers, teachers, students, and other users to co-create and evaluate more user-friendly and accessible digital tools and platforms.


  • Guidelines and recommendations for digital and technical literacy education and training, based on empirical evidence and user-centered design principles.
  • Tools and resources for improving digital accessibility and inclusion, such as assistive technologies, interfaces, and standards.
  • Policy proposals and advocacy efforts to address systemic barriers to digital and technical literacy and learning, such as the digital divide, lack of funding, and inadequate infrastructure.

Theme 2: Digital Pathways to Wellbeing

Globally, the rise in mental health challenges and physical disabilities, fueled by social inequities, the pandemic, and modern life stresses, demands urgent attention. This surge strains healthcare systems and heightens the need to tackle associated stigma and discrimination. Millions worldwide grapple with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, significantly impacting the economy. Additionally, people with physical disabilities often face poorer health, reduced access to education and employment, and higher poverty rates. Both groups frequently struggle to receive necessary healthcare services, revealing a critical gap in healthcare provision. These global challenges can in part be addressed by leveraging the potential of digital innovations like virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), adaptive systems, and behavioral analytics to improve health and well-being.

Exploring the potential of digital technologies to support health and well-being.

This theme focuses on using virtual and augmented reality, adaptive systems, behavioral analytics, and other technologies to support healthcare and improve outcomes for patients.

One key area of research is the use of virtual and augmented environments for treatment, such as using AR and VR to provide immersive therapy for mental health conditions or using adaptive systems to personalize treatment plans for patients with chronic illnesses. Another area of research is the exploration of how technology can be used to support preventative interventions, such as using behavioral analytics to develop personalized wellness plans or developing apps and other tools to support healthy lifestyles.

Rehabilitation is an important area of focus, with research exploring how technology can be used to support patients recovering from illness or injury. This could include the use of robotic technologies to provide physical therapy, or the use of XR and other playful technologies to help patients regain cognitive function.

Throughout all research in this theme, a key priority will be to ensure that digital pathways to wellbeing are accessible and equitable for all. This involves exploring new interaction paradigms that are user-centered and inclusive, as well as developing guidelines for designing digital health interventions that prioritize the needs and preferences of diverse patient populations.

Finally, research in this theme will also focus on developing new business models and policy frameworks to support the growth of digital health technologies while ensuring that patients are not exploited or left behind. This involves exploring new models for financing digital health interventions, as well as developing ethical guidelines and regulations for the use of patient data in digital health contexts.

Overall, the research in this theme is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on expertise from fields such as medicine, computer science, psychology, and public health. We are new insights into the potential of digital technologies to support health and wellbeing and develop solutions that improve outcomes for those who are vulnerable, patients and promote equitable access to care.

Core challenges:

How can digital technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, robotics, and behavioral analytics, be leveraged to improve healthcare outcomes and support wellbeing at different stages of life?

What are the most promising prevention and rehabilitation interventions that can be delivered through digital and multimodal channels, and how can they be effectively integrated with traditional healthcare services?

How can we ensure that digital technologies for wellbeing are evidence-based, ethical, and safe, and do not exacerbate existing health disparities or privacy concerns?


We develop and test novel tools and technologies that enable patients and caregivers to access, monitor, and communicate health-related data and feedback in real-time. We experiment, conduct case studies and even clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy and usability of digital interventions for preventing, treating, and managing physical and mental health conditions. We collaborate with healthcare providers, insurers, and policymakers to integrate digital pathways to wellbeing into existing systems and policies, and to promote equitable access and outcomes.


  • Evidence-based guidelines and standards for using digital technologies in healthcare and wellbeing, based on rigorous research and ethical principles.
  • Tools and platforms for delivering personalized and interactive digital interventions for patients and caregivers, such as virtual coaches, adaptive systems, and online support groups.
  • Policy recommendations and advocacy efforts to promote the adoption and funding of digital pathways to wellbeing, and to ensure that they are accessible, equitable, and safe.

Theme 3: Virtual environments and economies

Society is facing pivotal changes across online realities, digital economies and AI. These changes create pivotal challenges in ensuring that future digital realities are supportive, safe spaces for users and creators. This include adaptive public policies that can keep up with digital innovations and ensure that the societal benefit these technologies can bring are realized. The challenges are multifaceted, encompassing aspects of user experience, economic models, governance, and ethical considerations.

Supporting users and creators in online realities across experiences, creativity, and business.

This theme focuses on exploring the challenges and opportunities of virtual environments and economies, with a particular emphasis on creating supportive, ethical, and safe environments for users and creators. We seek aid the development of an inclusive, accessible, and equitable virtual environment, where all users can thrive and flourish.

To address the challenges of building metaverses that are supportive of users, equal, and promote mental and physical health, we focus on developing frameworks for building virtual environments that are user-centric and prioritize the well-being of users. This involves exploring new interaction paradigms, developing better tools for understanding user behavior and preferences, and creating guidelines for designing virtual environments that prioritize inclusivity, accessibility, and safety.

Another important area of research is the study of virtual economies, which are becoming increasingly complex and connected. This will involve developing new methods for analyzing game data and studying human behavior in virtual environments, as well as exploring new policy frameworks for regulating virtual economies and protecting users from exploitation.

Finally, research in this theme also focuses on promoting physical and online communities that support users and creators in virtual environments. This will involve exploring new ways of fostering collaboration and creativity in virtual spaces, as well as developing new business models that enable creators to monetize their work while ensuring that users are not exploited.

As with all our research, the work carried out on this theme is interdisciplinary, drawing on expertise from fields such as computer science, psychology, economics, ethics and quantitative sociology. By working together, we can develop new insights into the challenges and opportunities of virtual environments and economies and develop solutions that promote the well-being of users and creators in these spaces.

Core challenges:

What are the key features and requirements of a supportive and sustainable metaverse, and how can we design and govern it to benefit users, creators, and society at large?

How can we better understand and leverage virtual economies, such as in-game markets, cryptocurrency, and NFTs, for social and economic development, and what are the risks and opportunities associated with them?

How can we ensure that virtual environments and economies are transparent, secure, and respect users’ privacy and rights, and how can we promote digital ethics and safety in these contexts?


Our work in this theme is mainly focused on large-scale data analytics, but we also conduct ethnographic, survey, and experimental studies to examine user behavior and preferences in virtual environments and economies, and to identify the social, cultural, and economic factors that shape them. We also develop and test innovative governance models and policy frameworks for virtual environments and economies, based on principles of participatory design. A key focus is on exploring the user experience of virtual environments and identifying opportunities to improve the accessibility, inclusivity, and safety of these environments. 


  • New economic models and algorithms for managing virtual economies that are fair, sustainable, and transparent. These will help to address issues such as inequality and exploitation in virtual economies.
  • Design guidelines and best practices for creating entertaining, engaging, inclusive, accessible, and safe virtual environments. These aimed at use by designers and developers to create virtual environments that support the wellbeing and mental health of users.
  • New tools and technologies for remote therapy and rehabilitation that leverage virtual and augmented reality. These could help to improve access to healthcare and rehabilitation services, particularly for people living in remote or under-served areas.
  • Collaborations with industry partners to apply the research findings and develop new products and services that promote the wellbeing and flourishing of users in virtual environments.