Virtual Reality Meditation
In Our National Parks
The Challenge: A 2-week project to create a virtual reality app that engages potential visitors, built with HTML and A-Frame.
The Goal: VR technology is still nascent, and the biggest markets are with mobile phones, such as the Daydream, that have limited functionality. I wanted to develop something that would be practical within this limitation.
The User: This project focused on the technology rather than user research. I combined my interests in the outdoors and meditation to design something I was personally interested in using.
The Result: An app that lets the user choose their scenery, an audio track, and meditation aids such as a timer and gong, in order to help people escape clear their mind while they are at work, have some downtime on the go, or looking for soul food in the comfort of their home.
Contextual Inqueries | User Interviews | Information Architecture | Customer Journey Maps | Persona Creation | Prototyping | UI Design | SWOT Analysis
Sketch, A-Frame, Google Pixel 2, Google Daydream, Headphones
Located throughout this article are photospheres that I took for this project.
If you have a VR headset you can view the collection here on your phone, choose a photo, click on the VR icon, and then insert your phone into your headset.
I was not able to visit a National Park in the time frame that I had, but I was able to go out to the Virginia countryside to get some nice photos off the Potomac River, near Harpers Ferry.
Several years ago I purchased an Oculus Rift DK2. I used it to wander around some 3D environments and play some basic games. I remember being both amazed and nauseous. I have been interested in VR ever since.
I have a Pixel 2 phone, which allows me to take photosphere photos and view them in the Google Daydream viewer. The pictures look very flat, the field of view is narrow, and the Pixel 2 doesn't have the resolution as something like the Oculus or Vive, but it's still fun to put on some music and scroll through photospheres I have taken.
I personally use Insight Timer for my meditation sessions, which has the ability to set a timer with a gong that can periodically sound to refocus my attention. I also checked out the popular meditation apps Calm and Headspace. From them I took the idea of allowing the user to choose a soundtrack of guided meditation, nature sounds, and both up beat and down beat music, depending on what the user is interested in.
I started by using LogoJoy, a website that makes logos, to make a mood board. From that I developed my own logo.
In the spirit of meditative simplicity, I wanted to incorporate simple shapes into the logo, so I started with a triangle, rectangle, and circle to make a tree and a mountain. I added some color, and then used similar triangles to make a tent and campfire.
I developed three menus in Sketch that a user would be able to access within the VR landscape. I was able to use the Sketch to VR plugin to test my menus in a VR environment. I could then export the photo into my Google Photos account to look at it on my VR headset.
Scroll around this photo and you will see the Sounds Menu embedded in the photosphere.
Scroll around this photo and you will see the Timer Menu embedded in the photosphere.
If you would like to see these photos on a VR headset you can view the collection here on your phone, choose a photo, click on the VR icon, and then insert your phone into your headset.
Future Work & Final Comments
The original phone menu has an option called "Camping" which I imagined could display photospheres of campgrounds, to help users see what campsites and amenities might look like.
As I am able to spend more time in a VR space, I will be able to learn how to improve menu navigation. An interface that allows for many more sound and location options would be necessary if there were going to be photos from several national parks.
As I go camping I will be sure to take lots of photosphere pictures from now on, and as the devices to view them improve, it will be interesting to reminisce.