Basics

Role

Project Lead
7 Student VR Developers

Timeline

10 days

Tools

Trello

Google Blocks

C#

Unity3D

SteamVR

Heart Rate Monitor

Subpac

Context

An Embodied Exploration

The inspiration for this project came from the benefits that dance and other somatic practices have provided me as well as research I was reading about the impact of flow states on physiological well being and performance. We wondered if virtual reality, a technology that at face value brings people out of their bodies, could be used to facilitate a unique embodied experience.

What is a Flow State?

According to Jamie Wheal of the Flow Genome Project, there are four common experiential markers that accompany being in a flow state. They are:

  • Selflessness: Sense of self disappears.
  • Timelessness: Hours seem like minutes, or micro-seconds can be seen in vivid detail.
  • Effortlessness: Tasks/mission seems much easier, movements/tools an extension of your will.
  • Information Richness: Gain insight and information in vivid detail.

Process

Getting In Sync

With such a large group and such little time, I knew getting everyone on the same page and having everyone feel invested at the level of thought capital would be important in order to maximize the potential of the project and the brief time we had to complete it. We spent the first day running through an abbreviated and customized version of a Design Thinking process, which included several rounds of brainstorming to come to rough storyboard, visual theme, and core user experience and design principles. Here are some of the concepts we landed on that would guide us as we shaped the experience:

  • Embodiment
  • Synaesthesia
  • Synchronization
  • Fractalization
  • Environment Malleability

Rapid Design & Experimentation

Given that the timeline of the project was only 10 days, we had to be strategic about what technologies/features would give us the biggest bang for our buck. We completed an impact/feasibility chart with our brainstormed features to create our first cut. Then, we proceeded to assign the high impact features with unknown feasibility to teams and spent a 2 hour sprint vetting a feature. We quickly saw many things that worked and many that didn't. A couple wins included discovering the immerisive potential of the Subpac and the impact of adding an audio channel synced with the user's heart beat—which we eventually found to feel more relevant than Heart Rate Variability (HRV) in the context of our VR experience.

Building the Experience

With the Tableau prototypes serving as my blueprint, I made some quick outlines of add-on features in Sketch and then proceeded to build the web application. I evaluated Angular.js, React.js, and Vue.js as possible frameworks for the application and settled on Vue.js because of the balance of simplicity and flexibility that I felt paired well with the needs of this project.

Learnings

Coming soon...