We wanted to use the immersive potential of VR to create a relaxing, peaceful, but interactive environment.
What it does
A player enters the environment (a wintery evening campsite) next to a tent and rustling fire. A lantern and bright note tacked to a stump lead the player to read the note. The note instructs the player to lie down on a sleeping bag (which exists IRL) and look up at the sky. The sky then forms the northern lights (with a soothing sound). The player is able to control the lights through their slowed breathing. Finally the northern lights fade away and the sun rises, seamlessly cueing the player that the experience is over.
How we built it
We built the environment in Unreal Engine, integrated hand-designed assets from Unity and Maya. We then designed code to interpret the input from the controllers to recognize resting-rate breathing.
Challenges we ran into
We ran into major challenges when trying to interpret micro-movements from the controllers, but devised a code that worked. However, we then ran into major challenges moving Unreal assets and files from one project to another. We also struggled with creating recognizable environmental changes -- resulting from the user's breathing (via controller movement).
Accomplishments that we are proud of
Seamless integration of a real world object into a VR experience. We've learned a lot of new skills. Our ability as a team to maintain a non-competitive, collaborative team environment even though we uncovered many barriers. And of course, our "Not So Famous" quote board.
What we learned
Real world objects CAN be seamlessly integrated into a VR experience if done properly. We also learned that few people have Unreal Engine experience (mentors) which made our process difficult. We learned that developing a legible document with instructions and implementing into VR was far easier than we expected. AND, we learned through volunteer play testers that our design and instructions did lead to an intuitive experience.
What's next for Aurora
Create and build-out an entire interaction story. Refine functionality and code related to sensor input. Add additional devices and metrics for relaxation (breath rate, heart rate) and test for effectiveness.