Acclimation Station – Helpling participants adjust to virtual reality
The point of this application was to give research participants a brief introduction to virtual reality in a fun and intuitive way. I created it during my time as a research support specialist for the High Level Perception Lab at UCSC with the help of some friends in the lab. Doing this helps prevent faulty data during the first few trials of any VR experiment where the participants might be distracted or overwhelmed by such awesome and futuristic technology. After this experience they will understand how to use VR and will feel comfortable in the virtual environment.
Obviously, visuals were not a priority here. The application shines with it’s extremely quick and easy to learn tutorial games and that little orange ball hovering in the air, our very own virtual guide to the Matrix! She’s quite sassy and has a personality that will put you at ease.
One small feature we added made all the difference in making the ball go from a robot to a lovable bouncy ball: we made the bottom lip move up and down dynamically with the recorded voice. Using a little bit of code, we got the channel data from the recorded audio files and analyzed whether or not the person was speaking or not. When the voice was speaking, the mouth would move up and down, otherwise it would return to the closed mouth position with a fluid transition. This made people feel like the ball was really talking to them, and there was the suspension of disbelief that is vital in virtual reality experiences. It kept them engaged and turned what could have been a generic tutorial sequence into an enjoyable little rendezvous with a memorable character!
Thanks Alisia Martinez for your wonderfully animated voice and Jeremy Saal for helping with the audio syncing!