Client - UNIT9
VR Haptic wearable. InnovateUK funded project, part of a UNIT9 team.
Yifei hacked the body to question what it would be like to live in another living being; exploring the Proteus Effect using a combination of immersive technologies. One aspect of this was using Electro Muscle Stimulation to control someone else's body.
The R&D department at UNIT9, believing in Yifei's visionary concept secured an InnovateUK grant to develop it further.
I came on board into a team of neuroscientists, electronic and software engineers, product designer, graphic, UX designers, innovation architects and a producer. All in a lab of an Aladdin's cave of VR equipment and other interactive experiences being produced for other projects.
My remit was as a wearables consultant/product owner of this project. This basically meant I worked on a user centred design concept, meeting with VR gamers and developing designs to make it more wearable/washable (replacing cables with conductive fabrics where appropriate) with a goal of scalability over the whole body as well as commercially as a cost-effective component with its own haptic demo games for integration with other VR hardware.
Being in a such tight-knit team at the lovely UNIT9, we all helped each other where we could through the many trials of developing the prototype and putting it out there for possible investment. We came far within the deadlines and targets of the research grant and even demoed it at some trade shows such as Tech Crunch November 2015 with a great response. However we are still looking for that investment to take it to the next level.
After the grant and my role finished in December 2015, I went travelling for a few months and then just recently freelanced with them to create some more units for cool developers or artists to experiment with.
The whole project opened my eyes to the considerations of the VR world with its challenges and potentials ...from wow this is amazing to is this a barrier to the experience? Where did the real immersion lie ? Was it part placebo with a slight nudge of the senses ? I live in a fantasy world half the time without any hardware so in some ways unnecessary hardware just jars me with reality rather than helping me get on with the virtual but then may be a bit of subtle strategic mis-direction of the senses could catapult me into a believable made up environment.