Team members: Shiva Roofigari, Gizelle Pillay, Macguire Rintoul, Jacky Au
Roles: Material design, interaction design
“V-Art” is a project that my teammate and I created for the final project of our material design course and it was done within a timeframe of 6 weeks. V-ART is a VR headset for the purpose of art history education. It is intended to be used in the context of an art gallery or museum, where gallery attendees can put on the headset and be taken through an art history experience, learning about different eras and styles. The device might also be purchased by art enthusiasts for home use, or by users who are not physically able to attend art galleries.
At the beginning of our project, we had to choose the context and the target audience (demonstrated through an example persona) for our VR headset. We decided that our headset should be used in the context of art galleries or exhibits. The persona we chose was an art history enthusiast who wants to learn about art history through a virtual reality experience, who is looking for an innovative and engaging way to learn about art history.
After finalizing our context and persona, we each sketched potential forms for our VR headset. One of my groupmates introduced us to the art movement of Cubism. This was one of the most drastic art movements in history as it explored open form, the crossing of spaces, two-dimensionality, and angular interconnections. All of these aspects reflected upon the idea of time and space, and artists explored how these separate pieces could also be seen as a cohesive whole. From what we knew about cubism and our more in depth research, we came up with an original art piece. The double faces act as a mask for the person wearing it, and a symbolic representation of the cubism period. The two faces appear separate but can also be viewed as one full face.
We were assigned with two materials for our VR headset: plastic and fabric. We decided that we were going to use ABS plastic for the headset part as it is durable and light for the users. To create the artwork on the front of our headset, we found suitable fabrics and then cut and stitched them to create a cohesive piece. Since this will be the main visual attraction to our headset, we aimed to create an engaging piece in the style of the cubism art movement. The soft fabric was an interesting contrast to the smooth plastic of the frame, and we furthered the cubism metaphor by having the fabric artwork within the ‘frame’ of the front of our headset.
We used styrene for making our first prototype. This is because styrene is easy to work with and can easily be cut and shaped in different forms and we could easily iterate.
I was responsible for drawing the orthographic views and the exploded view of the headset. I drew these using Adobe Illustrator. This was very difficult because I had to consider average human anatomical proportions. I used the head measurement table in order to come up with the dimensions of the headset.
We decided to split the VR headset into two cubes, where the user had to slide their phone between the cubes. This had two reasons: so that 1) the form of our headset was following the cubist style and 2) that different phones could easily fit into out headset. We also designed the cubes so that they could slide into one another and create a more compact cubic form and in order to take less space for storage. For a better understanding, I drew the interactions of our VR headset in Adobe Illustrator.
Results and takeaways
One of my main takeaways from this project was the learning to take into account anatomical proportions. We had to consider the distance between the lens and the user’s eyes and also the length of the strap for different head sizes. Also, we needed to consider how to enable different sizes of phones to fit into the headset. We solved this by using the phone as a component which would hold the two parts of our headset together. Our project went well and we presented our final prototype in a public showcase at SFU.