Earthgazing

A democratized earth-gazing experience which evoke pivotal positive emotions

Independent Work | 2019     Tools:   Unity   Device: HTC VIVE   Skills:  VR Development, C# programming

Earthgazing was a research project directed by prof. Bernhard Riecke at iSpace Lab, Simon Fraser University. This project was developed by me on top of former research.

 

Brief

"Earthgazing" is a VR experence designed to elicit awe for improved well-being. Awe has wellness and educational benefits including feelings of social interconnectivity, shifts in perspective, and increased life satisfaction. We hope this experience could help make immersive, awe-inspiring experiences accessible to people.

 
 
 

Pipeline

The Overview Effect

“We went to the Moon as tech­ni­cians, we returned as human­i­tar­i­ans” reflected Edgar Mitchell after his space flight.

 

This describes the overview effect – a pro­found awe-inspiring expe­ri­ence of seeing Earth from space result­ing in a cog­ni­tive shift in world­view, lead­ing to a more con­scious and caring view on our planet. Experiencing Earth from space first-hand made many astro­nauts real­ize that Earth is frag­ile, with­out bor­ders, lead­ing to a feel­ing of con­nect­ed­ness to human­ity and our planet. Such an aware­ness shift could have a pos­i­tive impact on our soci­ety and planet, espe­cially if we had a tool that allowed for more people to expe­ri­ence it with­out the risk, cost, and envi­ron­men­tal foot­print asso­ci­ated with actual space flight.

Prototyping

Muiti-layer Storyboard

Click to view the story in detail

Experience Design

Pre-VR

Inspired by <2001: A Space Oddesy>, before getting into the VR world, we immersed our participant into a completely dark environment for 3mins, along with a calming ambient sound effect, in order to smooth the transition from real world to virtual world.

Movement-Imitating Interaction

Interaction Design

Initially, our participant would interact with a growing light ball in the cosmos. With the intention to get the participant fully immersed, I don't want to use any hand controller to break the experience. After brainstorming, I designed a movement imitating interaction, with which the light ball would follow the user's movement (3 DoF) but with a little delay, in order to make it more livable.  

Drone-like Sound Effect

Sound Design

On top of the ambient sound, I overlayed a drone-like sound effect to indicate the massive size of the earth and to build up the emotion of our participants.

The Shell

VFX Design

To fully utilize the edge of virtual environment, we don't want to copy the real-world earth but hope to add a bit more magic sauce to make the experience more awe-inspiring. Hence I designed the shell of the earth made up with flowing lights, which tried to express multiple meanings of fragile atmosphere, aurora, and spiritual sign of all the creatures on earth.