Alone, Together

Alone, Together is a work-in-progress thesis that puts forward a design framework facilitating physical-social interactions in immersive technology.

Thesis Project at ArtCenter College of Design

Specification
Design Reseach, Speculative Design, VR/AR/MR Design

Execution
Unity, Video, Illustration, Installation, Prints, Interactive Prototype, Thesis Blog, Thesis Paper

Right now when we are talking about immersive reality, most of the time we’re referring to an individual experience.

Even if we look into social applications like AltSpace or Facebook Spaces, where people hang out as avatars gathering in a VR space together, people in real life are still alone in terms of physical experience.

Technology shapes how people socialize, though analogue interactions among people seem to be replaced and satisfied with intangible connectivities.

Alone, Together started with an observation that if you draw with an AR graffiti app, you need to move backward in order to see what's been drawn. By doing that, you could’ve backed up into someone without knowing it. And this is the moment when augmented reality makes your physical reality collide with someone else’s physical reality.

And this phenomenon is not an intentional outcome but a surprising result of the configuration of the hardware and software that fabricates this technology and experience.

Imagine when immersive reality is widely implemented, like WebVR, and everyone jumps into their immersive reality on a daily basis even when they’re strolling on the street. To what extent will this situation escalate?

What does it look like when even more realities clash together? And what do we do about it?

Currently, only the top-side of the plane that AR algorithm can detect is actionable for placing holograms.

What if there are more possibilities on this spatial configuration? Does this resolve anything or actually create more friction?

After applying spatial correlation into the composition of spaces, more permutations can be created.

When two planes overlap perfectly, can the in-between space become encrypted for data storage? If so, what should human users do to achieve that spatial composition? And what are the other variations we can start imagining?

The wiggly forms around the planes are either the indication for possible behaviors of how humans can interact with each other, or the interchange of information/data in these intersectional spaces. These permutations demonstrate potential interactions within a larger group of people.

By intermingling these spatial units, speculations on future sociality in physical space starts emerging from these intersectional moments when we apply this framework to the physical movements in immersive reality experiences.

We can further articulate this relation with VR’s volumentric space, and imagine the correlations between volumes or even between planar and volumentric spaces.

(Image adapted from Riesenbutzbach. Stage designed by Anna Viebrock)

Coming back to the technology itself where technological spaces meet our physical body, how do we design the experience that takes physical consequences of others into account when ambient computing comes into reality? For instance, can we encrypt data through a hug? And how do we decrypt a compressed file in similar fashion?

The deliverables for the first half of the thesis project include video narratives and diagram prints. The booklet is printed with translucent vellum paper to illustrate the collapsing and compositionality of technological spaces.

The exploration in the spatiality of immersive spaces led me to question how this could FEEL like, and thus starting the exploration on MATERIALITY of the experience itself.

When these experiences are given with attributes like soft, sticky, spiky, and etc, while a user is enacting them, these attributes become a way to communicate and negotiate across different experiences. A soft experience might be depleted by a spiky one but what are other possible attributes could be utilized?

And we can even start speculating if there is a VIRTUAL filter in different PHYSICAL sites that will filter out parts of an virtual experience that is socially-inappropriate for the space that filter is guarding, for example, an art gallery can filter out a machine gun in a shooting game, or replace it with a bubble gun, and how will that affect the quote and quote user experience.