Nature Room

Creating an immersive nature environment to address stress.

Team: Zachary Hinton, Joyce Ker, Luke Simon
Scope: Reactive Spaces (Physical Computing)
Role: Iterated on concept, Collected 360 video, Wrote Processing code to toggle between videos and send them to Millumin through Syphon, Set up an IR break beam to act as a switch for toggling between videos, set up the mapping in Millumin to wrap the image around the room, and Set up the physical room.
Prompt

Design, build and install a site-specific work, within the Carnegie Mellon University Ideate facilities, that integrates with its surroundings. The piece must be reactive and, given a small amount of contextual explanation, informative. Your team can use light, sound, motion or a combination of those three, mixed with data-driven programming.
Original Concept

During the time of this assignment there were two stressed related suicides at Carnegie Mellon University. Carnegie Mellon University has a very strong stress culture so Luke proposed this idea as a way to deal with stress. The original concept was an ambient display that would encourage users to go out and experience nature.
Process

We iterated on our design and we though about creating a study room for the user to study in nature. We were going to collect our own footage using a Ricoh Theta 360 camera. Unfortunately, the footage was warped and too low quality to be projected on the large screens. So we had to adjust and see what HD static nature videos we could use. We also needed to figure out how to use Syphon and Millumin to wrap the video around the room for the immersive experience. Because we were using a shared space, we had to set up and tear down the Nature room each time we were working on it.  We used IR breakbeams on the door to sense whenever the door opened and closed and had to connect the 'sunlight' and fan using a DMX dimmer to control the intensity. Everything needed to be synced up so that the opening and closing of the door would change the video, level of sunlight, amount of wind, and the sound.
One of the ideas we tested when iterating on our design, experiencing lightning.
Final Product

We created the Nature room, which allows people to take a break in nature. Whenever the user opens and closes the door, their environment changes. This immersive experience includes both changes in surround sound, images, sunlight, and wind.
Moving Forward

This project was a great experience for us  learn about new technology. I was able to use a Ricoh Theta 360 camera and we were able to learn about limitations using 360 video. I was able to learn the difficulties of using Millumin and Syphon. I was also able to learn more about processing, and was able to create code to cycle through the different videos. We had to learn the difficulties of balancing of our hectic schedules and the fact that we were using the media lab, a shared space. We would also need to figure out a way to condense the amount of space the room takes. Although, we didn't meet our original goal of being a study room, we hope our idea will be a great respite for stressed out students. Bringing nature to people who don't have time to go out to nature.

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