Role: Creative & Technical Director
Tools: Unity, Ableton Live, Oculus Rift, Subpac
Inner Activity explores the ritual of transitioning from the real world to the virtual world using building blocks of meditation and spirituality. Presented as an art installation, the curated set design evokes a spiritual atmosphere through the use of visual motifs from Indian sacred spaces. Participants go through the ritual of removing their footwear before entering the sacred space, donning the electronic hardware and being transported into another reality where they can have a mystical experience. These simple rituals, such as removing shoes, can enhance participation in public exhibitions of virtual reality [Gotsis et al. 2004]. The experience aims to induce a state of meditative trance through synchronized stimulation of multiple senses, and the contrast between periods of sensory over-stimulation followed by lack of stimulation. The use of essential oil scents in the sacred space at particular moments during the experience complement the sensory immersion of the participants. The VR experience tries to create the feeling of awe, which can in turn contribute to the development of positivity, peace and harmony within participants. The project incorporates sound healing techniques, and sounds and frequencies from various indigenous cultures into the sound design in an attempt to create music and auditory ambience that has therapeutic qualities. This is accomplished through the combination of indigenous musical instruments, archetypal and universal sounds, resonant frequencies and techniques, such as rhythmic entrainment, which can have a powerful effect on the participant and their state of mind [Phillips-Silver et al. 2010].
Inner Activity was developed as an MFA thesis project in the Interactive Media & Games Division at the School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California. The project was inspired by prior art including Osmose [Davies 1998], Soundself by Robin Arnott, and Rhythm and the Brain Project by Adam Gazzaley and Mickey Hart. The project attempts to combine concepts and techniques from wellness programs integrated through virtual reality (VR) and vibro-acoustic sound technology. Preliminary formative research into future applications for this project include tinnitus treatment for which VR and cognitive behavioral therapy have shown some effectiveness [Malinvaud et al. 2016]. VR has been also found effective for dealing with trauma, pain and specific phobias exposure therapy techniques [Bohil et al. 2011]. The combination of biofeedback and virtual reality is the next frontier of emerging research in this field [van Rooij et al. 2016; Lobel et al. 2016]. While the current focus of the project is on experimental sound design[Summers et al. 2015], future iterations will be exploring the use of real-time biometric sensing to bring awareness to the user’s internal bodily processes.
This project’s efficacy and effectiveness in wellness and healthcare settings needs to be validated through pilot testing and clinical trials. The project has the potential to become a new immersive treatment. Inner Activity aims to introduce new kinds of therapy modalities, which have the potential to become medical tools of the future. By blurring the lines between immersive entertainment and digitally mediated therapy, the project aspires to join a new genre of interactive entertainment that can be thought of as “mindful entertainment”.
- Walt Disney Company Innovation Award for Immersive Technologies (Second Place) – VRSC Student Festival 2016
- Nvidia Platinum Award for ‘Best in Show’ – VRSC Student Festival 2016
- November 4: Visual Reality Exhibition @ Continuum Studio, Santa Monica, CA
- July 24 – 28: SIGGRAPH 2016 VR Village @ Anaheim Convention Center, CA
- June 14 – 16: E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016 @ IndieCade Showcase @ E3, South Hall – Los Angeles Convention Center
- June 12: Fantastic VR Gallery @ Interactive Media Building, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California
- May 05 – 11: Unfolding: 2016 IMGD MFA Thesis Showcase @ School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California
- April 15: VRSC Student Virtual Reality Festival and Demo Day @ School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California
- February 19 9.00am – 6.00pm: E2: Evolution of Entertainment Conference @ Town & Gown – University of Southern California
- February 17 6.30pm: Tomorrowear Wearable Tech Expo @ The Reef, 1933 S. Broadway LA CA 90007
- BOHIL, C.J., ALICEA, B., AND BIOCCA, F.A. 2011. Virtual reality in neuroscience research and therapy. Nature reviews. Neuroscience 12, 12, 752–62.
- DAVIES, C. 1998. OSMOSE: Notes on being in Immersive virtual space. Digital Creativity 9, 2, 65–74.
- GOTSIS, M., BAUM, G., SUN, K., AND GRAVENHORST, R.M. 2004. Inside_Out: a case study for enhancing public participation in mixed reality events. In: H. Thwaites, ed., Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia. IOS Press, Ogaki City, Japan, 996–1005.
- LOBEL, A., GOTSIS, M., REYNOLDS, E., ANNETTA, M., ENGELS, R.C.M.E., AND GRANIC, I. 2016. Designing and Utilizing Biofeedback Games for Emotion Regulation. Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI EA ’16, ACM Press, 1945–1951.
- MALINVAUD, D., LONDERO, A., NIARRA, R., ET AL. 2016. Auditory and visual 3D virtual reality therapy as a new treatment for chronic subjective tinnitus: results of a randomized controlled trial. Hearing Research.
- PHILLIPS-SILVER, J., AKTIPIS, C.A., AND BRYANT, G.A. 2010. The ecology of entrainment: Foundations of coordinated rhythmic movement. Music perception 28, 1, 3–14.
- VAN ROOIJ, M., LOBEL, A., HARRIS, O., SMIT, N., AND GRANIC, I. 2016. DEEP: A Biofeedback Virtual Reality Game for Children At-risk for Anxiety. Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI EA ’16, ACM Press, 1989–1997.
- SUMMERS, C., LYMPOURIDIS, V., AND ERKUT, C. 2015. Sonic interaction design for virtual and augmented reality environments. 2015 IEEE 2nd VR Workshop on Sonic Interactions for Virtual Environments (SIVE), IEEE, 1–6.