Unity VR scenes

Intro to Unity was an exciting class, we learnt new techniques such as adding terrain, lights, objects and textures to the scenes. I created this space from my recurring dreams where I see myself in the middle of a desert with a beautiful night sky. There are huge chess pieces carved into rocks, all in a formation that looks like it is an ongoing game in an extremely slow pace. As if time is frozen while the pieces are deciding their next moves. As if I have this magical ability to pause the things around me, walk around leisurely, and take a look at all those giant pieces.

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I worked on another scene to practice these tools and try some more like particle systems and flickering lights. This scene has an old castle wall constructed in the middle of snow-clad hills with some light and smoke behind the wall. I am can’t wait to experience this one on Cardboard, perhaps with ambient sound, as the light and smoke might create areas of attraction in this space.

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Presence and Immersion

A year ago I worked on a pair of headphones that respond to 3 axis head tracking and produce relevant real-time variations in channel panning and volume levels. It was experienced by around 300 people at ITP Winter Show in December 2015, and though the aim was to apply learnings from Physical Computing class, I was amazed to see the immense potential of DIY head mounted devices in creating a virtual environments. Back then I had not thought much about the difference between presence and immersion as pointed out by Philipp Maas in this article, neither did I have a clear idea of the characteristics of VR described by Brenda Laurel.

The exhibition demo played star wars theme in loop (timely piece of music as the movie was released the same week that year) with a simple thought from presentation perspective: The engagement shouldn’t last beyond more than a couple of minutes since there will be a huge number of visitors. It worked in the sense that no one had to skip this experience because of too many people waiting ahead of them to experience it. As Maas suggests, Presence was the default state of this experience; it was communicated to the users to wear the headphones by presenting a looping video that showed people merrily using the same device, which also gave users the cues to tilt and turn.

Almost all kids and teenagers absolutely immersed themselves into the experience than most of the adults did. Many people had no expressive reactions beyond a friendly nod acknowledging that they’ve ‘understood’ what the experience is. A very dramatic cultural element was observed in achieving spatial immersion versus the narrative immersion because the music was from a strikingly American movie. Star was fans engaged more into further chitchats with me and with people around them. Lastly, people who didn’t know or follow star wars were not as amazed by the experience, although in my opinion they enjoyed at least some degree of spatial immersion.

Questions:

  1. For a given VR experience, users will always first go through some set of instructions (either directly presented by creator of that experience, or subconsciously revised by users’ earlier encounters with similar-looking devices that need headmounting etc). Now the user knows that (s)he is going to experience something virtual, does it make it further difficult to achieve immersion?
  2. “To keep the audience immersed in content, we need to anticipate and design for their emotional state at any given moment.” How to implement it when designing performances for a group of people where each individual in the audience might have a different emotional state, especially in the beginning when narration is yet to actively drive their states?

GIF of the project

Commuting is a major struggle in overpopulated urban areas because of heavy traffic on roads and public transport. On the other hand carpooling has always promised that people can travel together at ease, and that it is absolutely wallet-friendly and eco-friendly. Carpooling recently became both a symbol and tool of fighting Global Warming as a number of businesses and startups initiated their revenue models around it. While interning in the Bay Area this summer, I actively participated and contributed to a few constructive carpool experiments such as Scoop, Uber Pool and Lyft Line, and that led to the idea of a concept app that offers automated carpool service. I’m planning to work on it in the motion design class this semester, called Emotions in Motion, instructed by incredibly talented Alon Chitayat.

As the first assignment for this class we’re asked to make a quick ~5 seconds GIF of the project idea. With a few free resources from videezy I made this GIF:

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