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Fury as taxpayer foots £44k bill to create virtual reality sea creature to help calm stressed-out office staff

TAXPAYERS are forking out £44,000 on a project to create a virtual reality sea creature for stressed-out office staff.

The cash went to tech bosses who say their program is more calming than morphine.

Government quango Innovate UK awarded the grant to London-based company Animorph to develop its Easel program.

Its headset allows office workers to relax by immersing themselves in a simulated ocean floor setting where they can pet and feed a pretend sea creature.

The company says: “Easel reduces stress by transporting the player to a distant, safe, under- water world where they can foster a caring relationship with an other-worldly sea creature.”

“The player’s ability to move around freely and initiate rich interactions within the calming and audiovisually enchanting world provides a soothing sense of control.

“The player uses gaze and hand gestures to navigate the ocean, and interacts with their sea-animal companion in a variety of ways, including feeding, playing, and cleaning up their environment.

“VR has been documented as hugely beneficial, even surpassing the effectiveness of morphine for pain reduction.”

A further £50,000 has been given to another London outfit, Awen Emotions, for a similar idea to help stressed students.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Conor Holohan said: “Taxpayers will ask why they’re funding this bizarre project.

“With the long tentacles of the state taking ever more in tax, now more than ever precious funds should be used properly.

"Time for ministers to get a grip on spending.”