We were inspired by the physics simulations on phet.colorado. Online labs are very popular and we wanted to create something in which you can experience physics and labs in a 3D immersive environment.

What it does

Our creation is a proof that you can build an environment in which you can experience physics and its affects in a more immersive way than an online lab. Our product is a gravity simulator in which one can simulate the effects of gravity on different planets. We created multiple terrains. One is Earth and one is Mars. We tweaked the gravitational constant to represent each planet. We also created objects so you can drop them and see how long it takes for them to drop, and the bounce height. We also created a jump function, so you can jump on each planet and see how that is affected by the different gravitational constants. So if a group of people can build a gravity simulator in 24 hours, then you can also build more complicated and more thought provoking simulations. This can help students and even professors get a better grasp on physics, chemistry, and other subjects.

How we built it

We started with Unity. Unity is the development software that works with Oculus. We started by created small objects and trying to get them to display in an environment. We then tried to add a terrain and then hills and more objects. Then we mapped the controls to the XBOX controller. Next we wanted to make those objects interact with each other using the laws of physics. Once we made the objects interact with each other, we wanted our player to be able to manipulate these objects. So then using the XBOX controller, we mapped more keys to be able to control the objects. After perfecting our first terrain, we then created our subsequent terrains.

Challenges we ran into

We had an Oculus but not the Oculus touch. Getting the XBOX controller to work initially took hours. For some reason that setup is just not easy. Our laptop only had 2 USB ports so it also took us a long time to find a USB hub. .So mapping movements was difficult, especially since we wanted to make it highly intuitive. Getting objects to function as they should was also hard, because you have to code that in C# and javascript and no one here knew that (it was fun to learn though). We also had issues with motion sickness. Something about jumping off huge cliffs but not actually moving is very disoriented so we all had to take turns testing.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're proud that we were able to show our concept to everyone and make a product without having any experience in VR development. We are also proud that we stuck with what we set out to do. There were many moments in which we thought to just give up on the VR because there are easier projects. But after some thought, we knew we came here to try something new. It is not everyday that you get a chance to develop for VR.

What we learned

We learned that motion sickness is very very real. We also got very comfortable with using Unity and we even learned some javascript and C#. We also learned that VR is a very powerful field in which humans can accomplish and experience more than we thought.

What's next for Pleasant Planet

Pleasant Planet wants to create more simulations in the future. One of our teammates loved VR so much that he actually plans to buy an Oculus and develop for it.

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