Semester in Alternate Realities: new course, offered in Spring 2019

In a joint endeavor, Bernhard RieckePatrick Pennefather have designed and in the Spring 2019 semes­ter jointly taught a brand-new 15-credit immer­sive course enti­tled “Semester in Alternate Realities” (DIAL 390W, 391W, 392W D200) aimed at taking expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing to the next level. Special thanks to our amaz­ing edu­ca­tional con­sul­tant Barb Berry for her sup­port in design­ing this course!

Semester in Alternate Realities flyier

In this project-based course, par­tic­i­pants will be chal­lenged to develop solu­tions using tech­nolo­gies such as VR (e.g., Oculus Go/Rift, HTC Vive) and immer­sive multi-modal mixed real­ity instal­la­tions. In addi­tion to focus­ing on the co-construction of dig­i­tal pro­to­types afford­ing mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences in “alter­nate real­i­ties”, our objec­tive is to stim­u­late doc­u­mented reflec­tion and dis­cus­sion through­out the process. Participants can expect to work col­lab­o­ra­tively, be matched accord­ing to the skills they bring, and be pro­vided time and resources to learn new tech­niques and approaches, soft– and hard skills, and processes to con­duct user research. Participants will get the oppor­tu­nity to reflect on future tech­nolo­gies and their poten­tial impact on the world, and improve their pre­sen­ta­tion skills and pub­licly show­case their projects at three show­cases through­out the semes­ter. To incor­po­rate diverse per­spec­tives, stu­dents from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines were invited to apply and, in their appli­ca­tion, argue how they could con­tribute to the course and the co-construction of team projects. 18 stu­dents from dif­fer­ent depart­ments were selected.

This semester’s design chal­lenge is “cre­at­ing for good”: Use alter­nate real­i­ties tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies, guid­ing the­o­ret­i­cal frame­works, and appro­pri­ate processes, project man­age­ment and col­lab­o­ra­tion approaches to iter­a­tively ideate, design, pro­to­type, and eval­u­ate an inter­ac­tive alter­nate real­i­ties expe­ri­ence that affords mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences for the bet­ter­ment of human­ity and/or our planet.

There is increas­ing evi­dence that the immer­sive nature of VR makes it a pow­er­ful medium for “doing good,” and it is par­tic­u­larly well-suited for help­ing people develop com­pas­sion and empa­thy. In this course, we will explore the poten­tial of doing good using alter­nate real­i­ties (that are boom­ing around the world and par­tic­u­larly in Vancouver). This new course builds on our prior expe­ri­ence in teach­ing immer­sive envi­ron­ment courses and XR rapid pro­to­typ­ing, doing joint VR4Good projects, and orga­niz­ing a Siggraph Birds of a Feather ses­sion on VR/MR/AR 4 Good: Creating with a Purpose.

 

SIAR team picture - Epic 3 showcase

 

 

Course videos

SIAR course video:

Here’s a video cre­ated  by our SIAR stu­dents to describe the over­all course:

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IAT344 video

thanks to the IAT344 video team Ivy Run Zhao, Lynn Minxuan Wu, and Guanlin Liang and their instruc­tor Susan Clements-Vivian for cre­at­ing this video! It covers VR projects from our first Epic and Showcase 1 on February 1st 2019.

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Media Coverage

MacLean - SIAR

Our Semester in Alternate Realities was chosen as one of two “Cool Courses” by MacLean https://www.macleans.ca/schools/simon-fraser-university/

Semester in Alternate Realities stu­dents teach people to walk a mile in some­one else’s shoes

SIAT pro­fes­sors adjust teach­ing style for SFU’s ground-breaking Semester in Alternate Realities

Immersive class­room expe­ri­ence fos­ters team­work in ground-breaking Semester in Alternate Realities

Emerging Media BC Community of Practice meet­ing: VR4Good

SFU stu­dents use vir­tual real­ity to address real-world problems

Designing positive transformative experiences using VR/MR: From research to classrooms

May 20, 2019, Bernhard Riecke gave a Keynote pre­sen­ta­tion on “Designing pos­i­tive trans­for­ma­tive expe­ri­ences using vir­tual and mixed real­ity: From research to class­rooms” at the “Symposium on Transformative Media: Designing Digital Experiences for Positive Change” in Milano, Italy. In the second half of the talk he presents some exam­ples and find­ings from the Semester in Alternate Realities course, here’s a video (sorry for the record­ing qual­ity, we had to switch com­put­ers so could not use screen recording).

Want to try it out? VR projects for download

As we had tasked our stu­dents to engage with real-world prob­lems by asking them to design “inter­ac­tive alter­nate real­i­ties expe­ri­ence that affords mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences for the bet­ter­ment of human­ity and/or our planet” there was con­sid­er­able inter­est from the public, and we decided to pub­lish the VR expe­ri­ences online (at itch.io, after some more iter­a­tive improve­ments) free to use for every­body to fur­ther increase com­mu­nity out­reach and involvement.

Siegehttps://redfoxgamedev.itch.io/siar-siege

VR Demos at Sustainable Energy and Engineering Building Opening Ceremony

On 25 April 2019 the Semester in Alternate Realities team will present 2 VR4Good projects that directly address sus­tain­abil­ity: Aquatica and Rising Waters.
 Sustainable Energy Engineering Building

 

Emerging Media BC Community of Practice  open Event on Friday April 12th 2019: Presentations & VR demos

The April 2019 meet­ing (details and RSVP here) will be hosted at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) at the SFU Surrey campus. The theme of this meet­ing is “VR 4Good”, based on the 4Good projects of the stu­dents at SIAR, with a focus on the ben­e­fits of facil­i­tat­ing such VR projects. Several of the VR4Good projects that were made during the Semester in Alternate Realities inten­sive (15 credit) course on the SFU Surrey campus will be presented.

These works were cre­ated by stu­dents from dif­fer­ent SFU depart­ments who joined our Semester in Alternate Realities. The works are part of an emerg­ing field of devel­op­ment and research that use VR and other emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies to increase aware­ness and be a cat­a­lyst for improv­ing our world. These projects are the cul­mi­na­tion of 14 weeks of an intense, iter­a­tive, agile, reflec­tive and adap­tive teach­ing and learn­ing process. Four dis­tinct yet inter­con­nected “for good” Virtual Reality expe­ri­ences focused on themes related to improv­ing the social and envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tion, by not only draw­ing aware­ness to issues in the world that require our atten­tion, but also pro­vid­ing unique first-person expe­ri­ences that we could not have with­out immer­sive technology.

Here’s a video of the pre­sen­ta­tions, start­ing with the stu­dent presentations:

start­ing with Bernhard and Patrick intro­duc­ing the Semester in Alternate Realities:

and here is the part of the pre­sen­ta­tion where Bernhard and Patrick explain how they designed the “Semester in Alternate Realities” course and the impor­tant role that inte­grat­ing stu­dent feed­back on a reg­u­lar (often daily) basis played.

Third and Final Showcase: Thursday April 4th 2019

We’ll have our third and final Student Virtual Reality Showcase on Thursday Aprtil 4th from ca 12pm noon — 5:30pm, on the SFU Surrey Campus Mezzanine, where our  18 stu­dents from dif­fer­ent SFU depart­ments will present their final projects. This time they all worked together in one Jazzile HiveMind ensem­ble instead of fixed teams to design this final experience.

 

siar showcase 3 poster

Video trailer:

Projects and videos

Narrow Walls - You’re worth it, save your mind!

Narrow Walls is a VR expe­ri­ence that sit­u­ates imm­er­sants into the role of war sur­vivors trying to escape real­ity through trans­fer­ring their con­scious­ness into the vir­tual world. In the vir­tual world, the imm­er­sants learn about the back­ground sto­ries and moti­va­tions of other sur­vivors who are in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. At the end of the expe­ri­ence, the imm­er­sants dis­cover a sur­pris­ing ending that reveals what the future holds for them.

Goal: Our intended goal for the imm­er­sant is to empathize with the risks that some refugees take to grant them­selves or their family a better life. It is easy to gen­er­al­ize migrat­ing refugees and come up with a pre­con­ceived expec­ta­tion of each person that con­sid­ers them­selves as such, but by encom­pass­ing that group of refugees as indi­vid­u­als that come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and life expe­ri­ences, we will make cap­ti­vat­ing char­ac­ters. We want users to rec­og­nize these people as human beings with a tan­gi­ble his­tory, and that every­one can become a refugee even in devel­oped coun­tries.
Engaging with the NPCs in the world com­bined with the pre and post expe­ri­ences will be what dif­fer­en­ti­ates our expe­ri­ence from other expe­ri­ences that tell the refugee expe­ri­ence. There are many VR expe­ri­ence that tells sto­ries of refugees, but our expe­ri­ence will allow for more embod­ied expe­ri­ence for the user.

Core user expe­ri­ence:  Narrow Walls is a nerve-wracking VR expe­ri­ence in which the users go through a har­row­ing exodus to an uncer­tain future while dis­cov­er­ing about the tragic back­grounds of the people around them. The users will be sit­u­ated in a con­fined space that is per­me­ated by dark­ness where occa­sional flick­ers of light could be vis­i­ble.  A strong sense of uncer­tainty and fear would be con­veyed to the users through the visual sym­bols. By plac­ing the users in a vir­tual space where every­thing is in the dark and almost unper­ceiv­able, they are guided to feel the sense of uncer­tainty and fear that a refugee might feel on their jour­ney to flee to a for­eign coun­try. The design of the NPCs in the vir­tual envi­ron­ment also helps to por­tray the metaphors of “fleet­ing mem­o­ries” and “incom­pre­hen­si­bil­ity of human future” as they are con­stantly glow­ing and dis­ap­pear­ing, never fully visible.

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Siege - Defend the mind palace

Welcome to the mind palace, a place in your mind you can go to in order to work through your per­sonal trou­bles and issues. In the mind palace you will encounter your inner voice who will give you a tour. However, when a com­mo­tion is heard out­side the tour is inter­rupted in order to go inves­ti­gate. From the top of the castle tower, it becomes appar­ent that the castle is being bom­barded with paper air­planes. Who is throw­ing these planes, and what do they want?

Goal:  The goal of the project is to get the user to under­stand the impor­tance of being con­nected to people, the sig­nif­i­cance of the com­mu­nity in their life, and their trust in those who sur­round them. Loneliness is a huge prob­lem for many mil­len­ni­als and most of them don’t know how to tackle this prob­lem. Our project is unique because the topic of lone­li­ness and con­nec­tion is not often explored in VR. We also use gam­i­fi­ca­tion to help users under­stand the topic. Siege may be con­sid­ered as “for good” because it addresses an impor­tant topic of rely­ing on others and how as a soci­ety we need to be con­nected to each other.

Core user expe­ri­ence:  The core user expe­ri­ence of the project is to place the user in the posi­tion of being “attacked” by mes­sages from their friends. The castle siege itself rep­re­sents shut­ting one­self off from friends who are reach­ing out. The user is the one pro­tect­ing the castle and fight­ing with the attack­ers who throw paper air­planes at them. However, some of the paper air­planes con­tain mes­sages from the user’s friend, and through these mes­sages and responses from the user’s “inner voice” the nar­ra­tive is revealed. The desired shift that we want to achieve is to make the user real­ize that secur­ing the castle (i.e. per­sonal space and time) is some­times not good, espe­cially if we are ignor­ing those who are impor­tant to us in the process.

This emo­tional expe­ri­ence will assist in accom­plish­ing our goal of making users value their per­sonal rela­tion­ships more and make them want to reach out to indi­vid­u­als in their lives to improve those rela­tion­ships. When people under­stand the impor­tance of con­nect­ing with others, they will incor­po­rate this into their per­sonal rela­tion­ships and their community.

Aquatica - Sea the difference a cleaner ocean makes

Aquatica is a narrative-driven expe­ri­ence which brings users to a future job ori­en­ta­tion where they will be asked to elim­i­nate ocean life as bacteria-free plas­tic is con­sid­ered as the only pos­i­tive mate­r­ial to the ocean. In the ocean, users will see a vari­ety of ocean crea­tures as well as dif­fer­ent types of aes­thetic plas­tic objects. Following the voice, users will help cleans­ing the ocean by elim­i­nat­ing ocean crea­tures such as sea cucum­bers, plas­tic bag jel­ly­fish, bleached corals, ugly fish, and a turtle. By pre­sent­ing users with an illu­sion of a per­fect futur­is­tic ocean which is opposed to cur­rent con­cep­tion, users will real­ize how plas­tic usage in daily life can neg­a­tively affect the ocean and the under­sea creatures.

Goal:  What makes Aquatica unique is that it is an under­wa­ter expe­ri­ence that takes place in a dystopian future where sea life has been driven to extinc­tion by humans on pur­pose. The goal of the project is to raise aware­ness that if we do not con­trol our usage of plas­tic and make people care about the ocean, then in the future, we may not have any left. We achieved this through sen­sory and imag­i­na­tive immer­sion, in addi­tion to trying to influ­ence the user to make the uneth­i­cal choice.

Core user expe­ri­ence:  The core user expe­ri­ence of Aquatica involves encour­ag­ing the user to elim­i­nate under­wa­ter crea­tures in a world where plas­tic is seen as clean and beau­ti­ful. By grad­u­ally ramp­ing up the stakes, we hope users will real­ize the slip­pery slope oceans microplas­tics and under­sea pol­lu­tion can be.

Fit4You - Your Fitness, Personalized

(Real slogan: You don’t know your­self the way we do)

FIT4U is a vir­tual real­ity expe­ri­ence in which users are asked to work­out with a vir­tual yoga instruc­tor. Players fill in a form regard­ing their body and lifestyle infor­ma­tion and before begin­ning their work­out ses­sion. Once the expe­ri­ence is near­ing com­ple­tion, the sim­u­la­tion is revealed to be what it truly is; a way to farm their data. This is done to expose users to the “loose­ness” of cyber­se­cu­rity, and how it can be easily manip­u­lated to aid cyber-criminals in access­ing user data and com­pa­nies in exploit­ing their data.

Goal:  FIT4U intends to raise aware­ness of cyber­se­cu­rity through a VR expe­ri­ence where the user is tricked into shar­ing per­sonal infor­ma­tion. The set­ting for the expe­ri­ence is a relax­ing and almost med­i­ta­tive envi­ron­ment in order to make the users feel more at ease. The major dif­fer­en­tia­tor of FIT4U is that it takes the issue of cyber­se­cu­rity to a per­sonal level, unlike sim­i­lar VR expe­ri­ences that gamify the issue. FIT4U closes this gap by making the user a victim of fic­tional cyber­crime where their real per­sonal infor­ma­tion is accessed by a hacker. Such an effect should create a shift in the user’s per­cep­tion of the prob­lem and help them real­ize that they need to be more care­ful about the infor­ma­tion they share.

Core user expe­ri­ence: Shift. We want to trick the user into giving away infor­ma­tion, so we can show how care­less they are with it. We want users to feel relaxed enough so they become more manip­u­lat­able and are more will­ing to give away their data. We would like users to feel med­i­ta­tive and com­fort­able as they go through the yoga work­out process then shocked when they dis­cover that all their infor­ma­tion was accessed by some­one else after the fic­tional data breach. The tran­si­tion from com­fort to shock is cru­cial since it removes the abstract gap between the user shar­ing their per­sonal infor­ma­tion and some­one else taking advan­tage of it. We want FIT4U to be an edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence and we believe our expe­ri­ence trig­gers addi­tional think­ing process and con­scious shift in the users’ mind­set towards a more aware lifestyle.

https://youtu.be/4JyJ1L_mmSs

Pictures from our third and final showcase

VR demo at: "How to Stay Afloat: Tackling the Oceans & Climate Change"

SIAR stu­dents pre­sented their course VR project during the “Let’s talk Climate Change & the Oceans” event on the Burnaby campus which had the topic of “How to Stay Afloat: Tackling the Oceans & Climate Change”

staying afloat

 

Second Showcase: Fr March 8th 2019

We’ll have our second Student Virtual Reality Showcase on Friday March 8th, from ca 12pm noon - 4:30pm, on the SFU Surrey Campus Mezzanine, where our  18 stu­dents from dif­fer­ent SFU depart­ments cre­ated new teams and designed new projects to show­case. See our Facebook event page for first pic­tures of the show­case, more will follow soon.

 

siar showcase 2 poster large

Fit4U: Your Fitness, Personalized

(Real slogan: You don’t know your­self the way we do)Epic 2 - Fit4U POSTER_FINAL

FIT4U is a vir­tual real­ity expe­ri­ence in which users are asked to work­out with a real coach. Players fill the form regard­ing their body and lifestyle infor­ma­tion and begin their work­out ses­sion. Once the expe­ri­ence is near­ing com­ple­tion, the sim­u­la­tion is revealed to be what it truly is; a way to farm their data. This is done to expose users to the “loose­ness” of cyber­se­cu­rity, and how it can be easily manip­u­lated to aid cyber-criminals in access­ing user data and com­pa­nies in exploit­ing their data.

Goal:  FIT4U intends to raise aware­ness on cyber­se­cu­rity issue using VR expe­ri­ence where the user is tricked into shar­ing per­sonal infor­ma­tion in the relax­ing and almost med­i­ta­tive envi­ron­ment, anal­o­gous to many cases in the real world. The major dif­fer­en­tia­tor is that FIT4U takes issue of a cyber­se­cu­rity onto a per­sonal level, unlike many projects out there since sim­i­lar VR expe­ri­ences focus on game-like feel which detracts from the real prob­lem. FIT4U closes this gap by making the user a victim of fic­tional cyber crime where their real per­sonal infor­ma­tion is accessed by a hacker. Such an effect should make a shift in user’s per­cep­tion on a prob­lem and help them real­ize that they need to be more care­ful about the infor­ma­tion they share.

Core user expe­ri­ence:   We want to trick the user into giving away infor­ma­tion, so we can show how care­less they are with it. We want users to feel relaxed enough so they become more manip­u­la­ble and are more will­ing to give away their data. We would like users to feel med­i­ta­tive and com­fort­able as they go through the yoga work­out process and shocked as soon as they dis­cover that all their infor­ma­tion entered within the soft­ware as well as their infor­ma­tion from the Web was accessed by some­one else after the fic­tional data breach. Transition from com­fort to shock is cru­cial since it removes the abstract gap between the user shar­ing their per­sonal infor­ma­tion and some­one else taking advan­tage of it. We want FIT4U to be an edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence and we believe our expe­ri­ence trig­gers addi­tional think­ing process and con­scious shift in the users’ mind­set towards a more aware lifestyle.

YouTube Preview Image

CyberPsych Inc.: The prototype of your dreamsEpic 2 - CyberPsych_Poster

We are a cor­po­ra­tion called CyberPsych Inc. and we have devel­oped a tech­nol­ogy pro­to­type that cre­ates vir­tual games to help people work through their issues in a safe way. However, the tech­nol­ogy requires two people to develop a game based on an individual’s con­scious­ness. Your role is to com­plete the other person’s simple game, in the dream-like world, to help them solve their problem.

Goal:  The goal of the project is to get the user under­stand the impor­tance of being con­nected to people, the sig­nif­i­cance of the com­mu­nity in their life, and their trust in those who sur­round them. Loneliness is a huge prob­lem for many mil­len­ni­als and most of them don’t know how to tackle this problem.

Core user expe­ri­ence:  The core user expe­ri­ence of the project is to place the user in the posi­tion of being “attacked” by mes­sages from their friends. The castle siege itself rep­re­sents shut­ting one­self off from friends who are reach­ing out. The user is the one pro­tect­ing the castle and fight­ing with the attack­ers who shoot arrows at them. In the end, the user realises that the arrows have mes­sages attached to them, and that they have failed to com­mu­ni­cate with their friends. The desired shift that we want to achieve is to make the user real­ize that secur­ing the castle (i.e. per­sonal space and time) is some­times not good, espe­cially if we are ignor­ing those who are impor­tant to us in the process.

This emo­tional expe­ri­ence will assist in accom­plish­ing our goal of making users value their per­sonal rela­tion­ships more and make them want to reach out to indi­vid­u­als in their lives to improve those rela­tion­ships. When people under­stand the impor­tance of con­nect­ing with others, so they will incor­po­rate this in their per­sonal rela­tion­ships and their community.

YouTube Preview Image

Narrow Walls: We are humans just like you

Narrow Walls is a VR expe­ri­ence that puts imm­er­sants into the role of a refugee trying to escape real­ity via the back of a vir­tual cargo truck. While being trans­ported in the truck, the imm­er­sant will be able to move around the con­fined cargo space, and inter­act with the other refugees that they are trav­el­ling with. Each of the NPC’s will offer their own back­ground sto­ries and per­sonal moti­va­tions for want­ing to be smug­gled into another country.

Goal:  Our intended goal for the imm­er­sant is to empathize with the risks that some refugees take to grant them­selves or their family a better life. It is easy to gen­er­al­ize migrat­ing refugees and come up with a pre­con­ceived expec­ta­tion of each person that con­sid­ers them­selves as such, but by encom­pass­ing that group of refugees as indi­vid­u­als that come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and life expe­ri­ences, we will make cap­ti­vat­ing char­ac­ters. We want users to rec­og­nize these people as human beings with life a tan­gi­ble his­tory, and not just vic­tims of unfor­tu­nate polit­i­cal, eco­nom­i­cal or social cir­cum­stance.  Interaction with the NPCs in the world and move­ment within a vir­tual envi­ron­ment will be what dif­fer­en­ti­ates our expe­ri­ence from other expe­ri­ence that tell the refugee expe­ri­ence. There are many VR expe­ri­ence that tell sto­ries of refugees, but our expe­ri­ence will allow for more embod­ied expe­ri­ence for the user.

Core user expe­ri­ence:  Narrow Walls is a nerve rack­ing VR expe­ri­ence in which the users go through a har­row­ing exodus to an uncer­tain future while dis­cov­er­ing about the tragic back­grounds of the people that have found them­selves in the same dire cir­cum­stances: a ship­ping con­tainer on the back of a truck.

YouTube Preview Image

Aquatica:  Sea the difference a cleaner ocean makes

Aquatica is a nar­ra­tive driven expe­ri­ence which brings users to a dystopian future where oceans are cleaned up and filled with bacteria-free plas­tics. In the under­wa­ter envi­ron­ment, users can follow the pink orbs to tele­port to dif­fer­ent loca­tions to see a vari­ety of new “sea crea­tures” and hear sto­ries about them. At the end of the expe­ri­ence, users will be pre­sented with a choice which will influ­ence the post expe­ri­ence. After taking off the VR head­set, users will be given a bottle of “microplas­tic” and be told of the impact of microplas­tic on sea lifes, they come to real­ize that how plas­tic can impact the life of many under­sea creatures.

Goal:  What makes Aquatica unique is that it is an under­wa­ter expe­ri­ence that takes place in a dystopian future where sea life has been driven to extinc­tion. The goal of the project is to raise aware­ness that if we do not con­trol our usage of plas­tic and make people care about the ocean, then in the future, we may not have any left. We achieved this through sen­sory and imag­i­na­tive immer­sion, in addi­tion to subtly trying to influ­ence the user to make the uneth­i­cal choice.

Core user expe­ri­ence:  The core user expe­ri­ence within Aquatica is cre­at­ing a con­nec­tion with users, by pre­sent­ing a bizarre world in which plas­tic is seen as a pos­i­tive, we hope to sur­prise users and make them reflect on why plas­tic is imi­tat­ing organic sea life. In doing so, we expect it will help remind users about the impor­tance of plas­tic and its impact on the ocean.

Showcase 2 pictures

Demos at FCAT undergraduate Conference on March 1st 2019

See also the Flickr galery from the conference.

First Showcase: Fr February 1st 2019

We’ll have our first Student Virtual Reality Showcase on Friday February 1st, ca 1:00 - 4:30pm, on the SFU Surrey Campus Mezzanine, where the  18 stu­dents from dif­fer­ent SFU depart­ments show their first immer­sive project. Below are their project videos and brief project descrip­tions. See our face­book event page for first pic­tures of the show­case, more will follow soon.

Media cov­er­age: http://www.sfu.ca/fcat/news/news-archive/spring-2019/students-in-sfu_s-new-semester-in-alternate-realities-teach-peop.html

siar showcase 1 poster

Rising Waters: Is this your future?

Rising Waters is an exploratory con­text driven game that sets you in the future, in which pol­lu­tion has dev­as­tated the planet. Through nar­ra­tive and con­text clues, the player is set to nav­i­gate the world and auto­mat­i­cally obtain­ing sam­ples within their robotic suite to see how a low-lying coastal city has been dam­aged through care­less envi­ron­men­tal damage. Once the mis­sion is com­plete, the player exits the expe­ri­ence and reflects on their own envi­ron­men­tal impact.

Goal: The goal of this project is to prompt par­tic­i­pants to con­sider the long-term impact of their actions on the envi­ron­ment through visual, audi­tory and expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing. By sit­u­at­ing the par­tic­i­pant in a famil­iar loca­tion, city ban­ners are used to help local­ize the expe­ri­ence, par­tic­i­pants will learn about how a local­ized city can be impacted through a lack of imme­di­ate change towards com­bat­ing global and local pol­lu­tants, affect how the bios­phere behaves, which can con­tribute to rising sea levels, and degra­da­tion in the over­all qual­ity of the environment.

Core User Experience: The core user expe­ri­ence cen­ters around nar­ra­tive and expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing through inter­ac­tion with the built envi­ron­ment. In Rising Waters, the focus of atten­tion first and fore­most should be on how the user inter­acts with the built envi­ron­ment, dri­ving the core expe­ri­ence to be exploratory in nature. By having par­tic­i­pants inter­act with the envi­ron­ment, Rising Waters wants to con­front the user’s  ini­tial sense of awe, with one of dread and shock. Ideally, the user expe­ri­ence presents itself as some­thing nou­veau, dri­ving for­ward a sense of urgency that imbues the user with a desire to com­plete the experience.

https://youtu.be/mFMDWg2QdYU

Restless Sleep - A Waking Coma Experience: To find the forest through the eyes of others Epic 1 restless sleep - poster

“Restless Sleep” is an inno­v­a­tive VR expe­ri­ence of a fab­u­lated nar­ra­tive in which users’ mind is con­nect­ing with the con­scious­ness of coma patient in order to see and feel through a comatose per­cep­tion. The expe­ri­ence is com­posed by both per­for­ma­tive and vir­tual ele­ments, incor­po­rat­ing inter­ac­tive responses between hap­tics and visu­als, to guide users into the full embod­i­ment of a coma patient, who is con­stantly feel­ing and inter­act­ing with their phys­i­cal environment.

Goal: Our goal of the project is to let the user foster empa­thy towards coma patients. Many people ques­tion how con­scious of their sur­round­ings Coma patients are and how much out­side stim­u­la­tion they can actu­ally inter­pret. By being in a VR coma expe­ri­ence (per, during and post), the users are put into the shoes of a coma patient where they can learn how coma patients are treated and also to show that they have a mind of their own which are not fully unconscious.

Core User Experience: The core user expe­ri­ence we want to accom­plish is to foster empa­thy for coma patients and develop an under­stand­ing of what they can feel and how bystander actions can influ­ence the mental state along with the mental inter­pre­ta­tions of the patient. We want users to walk away from the expe­ri­ence with a sense of intro­spec­tive con­tem­pla­tion, and hope­fully knowl­edge on how best to handle them­selves around people in comas (or even those in other states of altered con­scious­ness). This is because we iden­ti­fied a sur­pris­ing amount of mis­in­for­ma­tion and igno­rance sur­round­ing comatose states, as well

as many first-hand expe­ri­ences of comatose patients. The most impact­ful was the story of a girl who was in a two week med­ically induced coma and her recounts of the hal­lu­ci­na­tory dreams she had while in the coma.. While we delib­er­ately didn’t want to sub­ject the users to this, we did want to bring atten­tion to the feel­ing of help­less­ness one feels, and how it is anal­o­gous to being in VR — espe­cially in a public setting.

https://vimeo.com/315911417/b084425816

The Pitch of Red: Every colour has a voice

The Pitch of Red is an immer­sive VR expe­ri­ence that allows the user to expe­ri­ence synes­the­sia — a con­di­tion that blends two or more senses together. In our expe­ri­ence, users are able to hear the sounds of the colours they see as they wander through the mind of Wassily Kandinsky — an artist who had such a condition.

Goal: The project tries to bring the user closer to the notion of mixing human senses. The psy­cho­log­i­cal devi­a­tion can be expe­ri­enced by anyone to any extent. It is mostly based on what the person asso­ci­ated with a cer­tain sound, colour, taste or any other humanly under­stood medium. The amount of people who expe­ri­ence that feel­ing is rel­a­tively small, how­ever, the impact they have made in his­tory or their way of per­ceiv­ing the world is worth study­ing. The project is focused on com­mu­ni­cat­ing the idea of mixing human senses, also known as — synes­the­sia to those who have never heard some­thing sim­i­lar to that or never expe­ri­enced that sense.

Core user expe­ri­ence:  For The Pitch of Red we aim to pro­vide imm­er­sants with a greater under­stand­ing of what it is like to have synes­the­sia of asso­ci­at­ing colors to sounds, or at the very least, be able to describe what such synes­the­sia is to some­one who may not know what it means. During the expe­ri­ence they will be granted a “super­power”: being able to hear every colour that they look at and we would expect users to feel curi­ous, excited and inten­tion­ally a bit over­whelmed. After fin­ish­ing our VR expe­ri­ence, we would like users will come out with a better under­stand­ing of what this par­tic­u­lar type of synes­the­sia might feel like in real life.

Aesthetically, we want the expe­ri­ence to allow the imm­er­sant to see an alter­nate real­ity through the eyes of Wassily Kandinsky. With that said, one of the dif­fi­cul­ties of VR is the lack of haptic touch so our focus with The Pitch of Red is to try to sim­u­late the rela­tion­ship between sight and sound.

https://vimeo.com/315839038

Barriers: The TRIP of a lifetime Epic1_Poster_teamBarriers

BARRIERS is a vir­tual expe­ri­ence that allows the user to view inter­ac­tions through the eyes and ears of a Non-Native English speaker. After biting into a “mag­i­cal” cookie, the par­tic­i­pant is trans­ported to a fan­tasy world. In order to achieve their goal of find­ing a wash­room, the imm­er­sant must inter­act with nearby talk­ing animals.

Goal:  The main emo­tion we are trying to evoke in our expe­ri­ence is the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of rely­ing on other people to be will­ing to help you when they don’t under­stand what they are saying. What makes our project unique is its abil­ity to make anyone feel as though they do not under­stand the lan­guage since it is made up. This ties in with the course theme because it invokes empa­thy in the user and give them an expe­ri­ence they would not oth­er­wise have access to.

Core user experience:

Through BARRIERS, we hope to place users in the vul­ner­a­ble posi­tion of rely­ing on other people for help. This expe­ri­ence aims to recre­ate the frus­tra­tion that comes with not being able to speak English and the grat­i­tude that arises when an indi­vid­ual takes the time to explain and use dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­niques to foster understanding.

https://youtu.be/YWW8s7eqezA

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