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Nigel Newbutt - University of Florida. Gainesville, FL, US

Nigel Newbutt

Assistant Professor | University of Florida

Gainesville, FL, UNITED STATES

Nigel Newbutt is a leading expert in the use of technologies with autistic groups, specifically virtual reality and immersive technologies.


Nigel Newbutt is an assistant professor of Advanced Learning Technologies and Director of the Equitable Learning Technology Lab in the Institute for Advanced Learning Technologies. He brings many years’ experience of developing technologies with autistic and underserved groups. This work began by exploring multimedia programs for deaf communities in the UK. Beyond this, he has also designed and evaluated learning technologies (namely, podcasting and vodcasting) in undergraduate classrooms. He is a leading expert in the application of technologies with autistic groups, specifically virtual reality and immersive technologies. He co-designs his work with teachers and autistic people.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Ethical AI Research

Social Robotics

Head-mounted Display

Immersive Technology


Virtual Reality

Special Education Needs

Advanced Learning Technologies

Media Appearances (4)

Pepper the robot helps autistic pupils make human friends

The Times  print


Why did the robot cross the road? To tell jokes and lead dances in the corridors of a special needs school. Pepper, a socially intelligent robot, has spent the past three weeks helping pupils at the Mendip School in Somerset, in a first project of its kind to embed a humanoid robot in a school.

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Socially intelligent robot helps autistic Somerset pupils

BBC News  tv


Pepper the robot based at The Mendip School in Somerset has been taking part in social activities designed to help autistic pupils with their wellbeing. Children at the school have been able to approach the robot for help in the three-week project.

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Pepper the Robot joins school to support autistic young people

UWE Bristol  online


A socially intelligent robot is lending a helping hand to pupils at a special needs school in Somerset as part of a project led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) researchers. The robot, known as Pepper, is currently based at The Mendip School near Shepton Mallet where it is supporting autistic pupils aged 12 to 19 with their wellbeing and emotions over a three-week period.

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Virtual Reality helping children with autism in Somerset

BBC Radio  radio


Students at The Mendip School in Prestleigh, have been able to tour museums with VR headsets before going on school trips. They have also been able to learn new social skills and build confidence with this technology. This is a partnership with Virtual Reality company Go Virtually and the University of the West of England.

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Articles (3)

A Process-Model for Minimizing Adverse Effects when Using Head Mounted Display-Based Virtual Reality for Individuals with Autism

Frontiers in Virtual Reality

Matthew Schmidt, et al.


Interest in the use of virtual reality technologies for individuals with autism spectrum disorders has been increasing for over two decades. Recently, research interest has been growing in the area of head mounted display-based virtual reality technologies, thanks to increased availability and affordability. Affordances and theorized benefits of headset-based virtual reality for individuals with autism spectrum disorders are quite promising. However, very little attention has been given in the literature to implementation safety and ethics.

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The possibility and importance of immersive technologies during COVID-19 for autistic people

Journal of Enabling Technologies

Nigel Newbutt, et al.


The purpose of this paper is to identify three key areas where autistic people may find themselves impacted through COVID-19, namely, education; employment; and anxiety.

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Using Virtual Reality Head-Mounted Displays in Schools with Autistic Children: Views, Experiences, and Future Directions

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking

Nigel Newbutt, et al.


This article seeks to place children on the autism spectrum at the center of a study examining the potential of virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMDs) used in classrooms. In doing so, we provide data that address 3 important and often overlooked research questions in the field of autism and technology, working in school-based settings with 31 autistic children from 6 to 16 years of age. First, what type of VR HMD device are preferred by children on the autism spectrum using HMDs.

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