On Unity Editor - Build and Run it!: https://github.com/codejoey/coldtex Open the entire repository as a Project and Build & Run from there.

or

Upload to Oculus headset (Quest tested, others untested), via VR-Sideloader https://headjack.io/tutorial/sideload-install-app-apk-oculus-go-quest/ upload the APK file to your headset and run it.

Event

Hack UTD VII, Spring 2021

in-texas-boots.online

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Inspiration

Our team’s mission is to inform others about and advocate for the struggles of those facing trouble due to natural (and human) disasters in Texas.

Our project was inspired by the struggle faced by many Texans in the wake of the extreme winter storms in recent weeks. We were especially focused on those left without power, food, or water for an extended period of time, and seek to inform others of the devastating effects after it ended. Additionally, we wanted to provide a possible way for others to empathize with those facing hardships and how the people are hurting, as well as encourage action from others to help those still recovering from the damage.

What we noticed in our initial research was that, though there are applications and experiences in the Oculus Shop for leisure and entertainment, there is nothing that focuses on educating people about certain struggles and realities others may face.

We believe VR can be a powerful tool of advocacy, and that it can be used as a platform of outreach for enthusiasts of the experience to donate disposable income towards the ones who need it most. It can be used as a framework of engagement, and provide the opportunity for others to share what they’ve learned with others they meet, be it at conventions at home or abroad.

What It Does

In Texas’ Boots is a cinematic VR experience which simulates and attempts to capture the uncertainty and danger that resulted from the historic storm. Additionally, we aim to raise awareness for how people like you and me can contribute to getting some Texans back on their feet.

Ultimately, this project tries to showcase the damage faced by Texans to those who were not struck by the disaster. It is designed to help others understand and empathize with the victims' plight, and to help said victims through donations to various relief funds.

Through our experience, users will be able to explore a home being hit by the disaster, to see how charitable giving can change the outcome of the disaster over time, and donate to suggested charities themselves.

How We Built It

We developed our hack in the Unity 3D development platform and coded the movements, transitions, and various other events in C#. Most of our design comes from finding free assets and royalty-free music online. Prototypes of the project were designed in Adobe XD to help organize our thoughts before beginning the project itself. Finally, we integrated the Oculus Rift SDK into our Unity platform to provide the richer experience of a fully immersive environment using virtual reality as our medium. Following this, we’ll end this hackathon by incorporating everything to pipeline towards a relief-fund website to donate through.

Challenges We Ran Into

Throughout this project, we ran into multiple issues. Our initial challenge was deciding what project we should develop, and the time constraints we had to develop it in. The early scope of this hack was also quite large and needed to be limited to a minimum viable product to prototype what we wanted to accomplish. However, discussion with sponsors and other Texas natives caused us to realize how the framing of our solution could be seen as insensitive.

This further resulted in the team pushing the hack to be seen through the lens of a virtual experience, and taking into account a perspective that could not be misinterpreted as a “game”.

Moreover, storage space and knowledge of how to go about accomplishing a certain event in Unity were some additional issues we faced. Most of the group was inexperienced with working in Unity. One was brand new to the experience, and two had only worked on a single project in the engine prior to this hackathon. The fourth member, who had worked with Unity frequently in the past, also faced technical issues in regards to their computer’s processing power and, thus, direct involvement in creating the scene’s environments.

The lack of VR headset equipment to test the project amongst the group only furthered the difficulty of the matter at hand.

Accomplishments That We're Proud Of

As we were somewhat inexperienced in Unity, this hack was a learning experience for a majority of us. Although we started off with a broad set of ideas, we were able to narrow them down into a single focus, and were able to utilize our limited processors, storage capacity, and time to create something that will help a lot of people.

Most VR experiences tend to involve a high level of complexity in terms of assets and scripting. As such, we are proud of the results considering the resources available to us and the struggles we faced in getting accustomed to working in Unity. One such accomplishment was the implementation of weather particle systems, which none of us were familiar with prior to this project.

What We Learned

Through this hackathon, we learned how to implement Unity features in VR. Additionally, we learned about light sources, collision detection, particle effects, and asset building. We learned how to work together over time zones and long distances, as well as how to collaborate on a Unity project via GitHub, Google Drive, and Discord. We also learned, in the process, just how terrible a situation Texas had faced, and how we could help the state get back on its feet.

What's Next for In Texas' Boots

Going forward, we plan to polish the experience and expand it to accommodate VR systems other than the Oculus Quest. Additionally, we’d like to expand the project to include more assets showcasing the damage to homeowners in regards to broken pipes and water leakage, as well as to show where the snow had hit where it should not have (i.e., frozen fishbowls, cracked foundations, etc.). We also plan to incorporate more relief fund groups into the hackathon, to allow users of the simulator to donate to various causes.

How You Can Make a Difference

We selected several non-profit organizations and charities which committed themselves to assisting those left without food and power and those displaced by Winter Storm Uri. A charitable donation to one or more of these organizations goes towards helping those in need:

American Red Cross:

https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html/

The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center:

https://www.bridgehrc.org/donate

The Central Texas Food Bank:

https://www.centraltexasfoodbank.org/get-involved/donate

The West Texas Food Bank:

https://wtxfoodbank.org/give/

We thank you for your support!

Built With

  • c#
  • html5
  • oculus-integration-package
  • oculus-quest
  • unity
  • unity-asset-manager
  • virtual-reality
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