My graduation project (September 2017 - January 2018) was done in a team. My team, MeraQi worked for the client Triple on a Virtual Reality project facilitated by MediaLAB Amsterdam. The assignment was focussed on VR and a computational model to translate biofeedback and other forms of input to an estimate of an emotion that could be used to adapt the VR environment accordingly.
My thesis can be found here (English). I was an all-around designer on this project. However, my primary focus was on designing the user interface (UI) and the user experience (UX). The user interface I designed for the therapists was made into an interactive clickable prototype that can be found here. If you want to try out the Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy application, send me an e-mail.
The question for the project was:"How can young women suffering from underwater-related phobia be helped in a Virtual Reality environment?"
My team was given a lot of freedom by Triple. As a team we wanted to create a meaningful product in the end so we thought about the 'why'. To do this we first needed a target audience to focus on. We did research on possible target audiences and the possibilities of sensors and VR.
Agnetha Mortensen from Norway
Agnetha recently finished her master degree in Game Studies (Informatics) at the University of Amsterdam. She is passionate about aesthetics and perception, and how the team can alternate design and technology to achieve a more immersive experience. She loves experimenting with different techniques to create unique visual experiences that captivate both heart and soul.
Yujie Shan (Rory) from China
Yujie is an undergraduate student studying at Department of Industrial Design of Kyushu University, Japan. She studies ergonomics and does space design, product design, service design. She prefers to design things that fill life with happiness, fun, and surprises. She is always passionate about learning new things and hopes to learn from others through teamwork at MediaLAB Amsterdam
Janina Saarnio from Finland
Janina studies media in the broadest sense at the University of Turku, Finland. As a researcher she gets inspiration from different point of views which also made me her to study abroad. At the moment she is very interested about how some of the nation-states are trying to solve the so-called problem of low birth rate. In the future she would like to work together with the people who have the same dream to make this world equal, safe and sustainable.
Christiaan van Leeuwen from the Netherlands
Christiaan is a designer from the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands. He is very autonomous and likes to learn new things. He taught himself video editing for instance and loves to experiment with new forms of media and user experiences. From logos and websites to realistic 3D renders and even 3D printing jewelry.
This project concerned Virtual Reality (VR), biofeedback, and a computational model. The focus was on creating a computational model that would be used to estimate user emotions. This estimation would, in turn, be used to adjust the virtual environment.
The project was initiated by the tech company Triple and was facilitated by MediaLAB Amsterdam. We held meetings with the clients frequently during the project.
I worked in an interdisciplinary team of four people with different professional backgrounds. Everyone in the team had a certain role to fulfill. I was in charge of all the visuals (e.g., logo, UI) and prototypes (e.g., Arduino, UX). The others were responsible for research and the computational model.
The original assignment was as follows:
“How can a computational model track the user’s emotion from live biofeedback in VR so the environment can be adapted accordingly?”
We researched VR, immersiveness and presence, emotions, sensors, phobias, exposure therapy, colors, and our target group. This resulted in the following design challenge:
“How can 15 to 24-year-old women who suffer from underwater-related phobia be helped using a computational model for exposure therapy in a VR environment that adapts to their emotional state?”
The target group was essential for the project. The aim was to create a product that could benefit a specific group of people. Following thorough research, the team chose to focus on young women with anxieties, and the project concerned the emotion of FEAR. We consulted with psychologists, therapists, VR experts, sensor experts, storytelling experts, camera experts and went on research trips to multiple VR events and the Radboud University of Nijmegen.
We decided to employ a VR concept that could be used as a treatment tool for people who struggle with severe phobias related to an underwater environment. The environment was created in Unity and programmed in C# (C-sharp).
The result is a VR underwater environment application made in Unity. The computational model was designed so that we could indicate the fear level of users and use the recorded data to specify the stimulation of the phobia according to individual user’s biofeedback. The computational model works as it is, but can be upgraded by adding more accurate sensors and more testing.
To make the computational model and the VR prototype a success the heart rate sensor has to be replaced by a heart rate variability sensor, and the computational model needs more data from test subjects who fit the target group description.