an installation experimenting with sensory virtual reality

About this project:

SVA / 2016

  • Virtual Reality
  • Interaction Design
  • Crowdfunding

In virtual reality, what might pixels feel like?

AVRA is a virtual-reality project that explores what real-world textures can translate to visually and aurally when a computerized layer is added to them. We funded this project through Kickstarter, and held our event in Brooklyn, NY in August 2018.

Janel and I are industrial designers by training, so materials and textures are a big part of how we understand design. When we set out to create a virtual reality experience, that was the first thing we missed. We wondered: how could we being tactility to VR?

We started out by experimenting with a LEAP Motion controller, combined with some simple props that corresponded to digital objects we programmed in Unity. Testers responded positively—so we built out a whole room, adding a variety of interactions.

The mirror as a starting point

By placing a mirror in the room and replicating it in VR, we can intuitively demonstrate to people how the experience bridges the two worlds.

Video of a person looking in the mirror and transitioning to VR.

Carpet becomes a sketch pad

It’s soft, fun to drag your fingers through, and you see a trace in it in real time.

Video of a person draging their hands along a patch of carpet mounted to the wall.

Wind and heat that you can see

What if we could make the invisible forces in the world visible? We took the wind from a fan and visualized it as particles.

We also recreated a hot pipe in our test room, and made it transparent so that you could see the heat rising through it.

Video of a person holding their hands above a fan.

The ground is lava (ok, not really)

We wanted every surface to be interactive in some way, so we made the ground react to the proximity of your hand.

Video of a person waving their hands above the floor.

The event

On Thursday August 6th and Friday august 7th, 2018, we rented gallery space and invited our friends, Kickstarter backers, and the public to experience AVRA. We also featured an interactive blockchain installation from the art collective Vapor Ants, and a prototype of a Resonant Body from artist Wolfgang Gil’s Sonic Geometries series.

A view of the gallery