The brief for Biometric Feedback asked us to experiment with biometric feedback within a virtual reality environment as an aid to depression and mental health. From this brief, we discovered two separate directions. The first would be to stick with Cafe Sunday and simply do what was expected which was to implement small additions to the experience. The second being to create a new experience where we had more freedom to explore that could be eventually tied in with Cafe Sunday. We decided upon the latter as it felt more interesting and we had more creative freedom and due to other reasons explained as follows.
Cafe Sunday is an already existing VR experience, which consists of various scenes that the user can experience and participate in but because of its linear structure, it has no way of altering the scene. So the entire model of the Cafe consists of simple shapes and fairly pastel colours while the characters are all fairly abstract consisting of emotionless faces. Although it looks nice enough, I found it to be aesthetically fairly bland and uninspiring.
The other concept, however, the one we chose to go with was to experiment within a new environment (in part because of the technical implications Cafe Sunday had on our computers) and create our own experience or our own objects that could then be integrated into Cafe Sunday. We chose this concept as there was more work for each of the team members and it fulfilled our learning goals. We ended up creating the character, the monster because it allowed us to take a more creative approach, it was more fun for the users to engage with a character and it had less technical restrictions for us as we didn’t have to edit and work with their files.
The creature allowed us to examine biometric feedback and experiment on it in many different ways which we would not have been able to do had we decided to persist with Cafe Sunday’s platform. It was crucial to us to be able to showcase the intensity of emotions and have the users understand the impact of their feeling by showing and visualising them. Such a complex task required a medium that would be highly empathetic, flexible and relatable for the user. We realised that all these characteristics could only be shown using a rather living object rather than a lifeless one. Although Cafe Sunday was a great place to start we simply could not rely on an environment to be able to showcase the inputs of a living creature.
All in all, I fully believe in the conceptual choice we made with going with the creature. This enabled me to expand my expertise by learning not only about the different 3D modelling software and skills but to also work with Unity, allowing me to appreciate the program and the possibilities of working with Biometric Feedback. I can also imagine myself continuing this project to introduce it into a meditation tool or app.