- Master course: Designing Interactive Experiences
- We developed a VR stargazing experience for duos that want to share some intimacy with their loved ones they are separated from (because of COVID-19).
- We built a fully working prototype in Unity that could be installed on Android phones.
- Theory from literature was incorporated to increase the feeling of co-presence and intimacy.
- I focused, during the development, on the networking in Unity but also worked on some smaller components in the experience.
- Finalist for the title of ‘VPRO Tegenlicht 2020 Pioneer’ (Dutch).
- Featured by VPRO Tegenlicht in their documentary (Dutch).
During the coronavirus lockdown, we had to keep distance from our loved ones. Fortunately, we could still talk to the people that we love and share time with them while being apart, but there are some elements missing. We do not feel like we are actually close to the other as it is still clear you are in separate rooms. There is no immersion into the shared experience with a regular video call. Thus, making it hard to have real intimacy in such a limited digital space. Especially now, people can use some mental comfort in these trying times. So, the question we asked for our experience is: “How can we create the feeling of intimacy in a shared experience, while both participants are not in the same physical environment?”
Our designed system addresses the problem of intimacy at a distance in a number of ways. One of them is the fact that we create a specific environment for people in which you could ‘normally’ do an intimate experience, namely stargazing. Next to this, we leave freedom to our users to fill in their moment together by not forcing them through different steps but giving suggestions (also based on whether they have experienced the system before). Moreover, we incorporate the body as a whole as well as their current environment to recreate the stargazing environment as realistic as possible instead of throwing them into a virtual environment (and feeling that they are somewhere else but not any closer to their partner).
My focus for the development was on making the networking work in Unity, so we could connect two users that were in different spaces. In the following video I go a bit deeper into the related theory and my addition to the project:
After the suggestion of our professor, we joined the competition for ‘Pioneer 2020’ of the Dutch TV show VPRO Tegenlicht. Together with 3 other teams, we made it to the finals, in which I acted as our team’s spokesperson. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to win the final prize. In January 2020, the project was also featured in a documentary of VPRO Tegenlicht and an article accompanying the documentary.