What if films and games could be controlled by your biosignals? What if they knew if you were bored, in love, or scared? What if they could make us... better humans? What if we created a meaningful way to experience one's biometrics?
We initiated this project by focusing on mindfulness. We sought to create a meditative experience with added principles of 'Information-Coded Biofeedback', in an effort to explore applications of biometrics and VR for art, distraction therapy, and mental fitness.
The result was STRATA; the world's first responsive VR experience driven by biometrics.
Concept / Direction / Creative Coding / Software Development / Hardware Design / Art Direction / Design / UI & UX
STRATA is a responsive VR experience driven by biometrics. It tunes into your heart rate, breathing, stress levels and brain waves to remix a game engine world around you. The stunning immersive experience connects us to our own emotional state, teaching us to calm and focus our minds.
Based on biofeedback techniques, the visuals within STRATA respond and react your physiological and neurological data, this in turn helps create awareness of the user’s autonomic nervous system. The goal is to use our own biometrics as a controller, calming oneself to levitate upwards through five fantastical worlds.
STRATA seeks to create a visual narrative of our biometrics in a meaningful and actionable way rather than simply aggregating info graphic data. It is our VR inverse.
STRATA was built in the Unreal game engine and is compatible with the Oculus Rift and Vive.
STRATA is built on the back of biofeedback experiments that began in the early 70’s.
“Information-coded biofeedback” enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature.
These instruments rapidly and accurately ‘feed back’ information to the user. The presentation of this information (often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior) supports desired physiological changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument.
Biofeedback, in this application, can help users train themselves to be mindful and achieve flow states.
A series of biometric sensors are placed on viewers equipped with Head Mounted Displays (HMDs).
These sensors measure EEG (brainwaves), GSR (stress levels), heart rate, and breathing (via a conductive band created by The Mill).
This data feeds to an app running on the HMD that influences visuals and audio.
The visitor then “tunes” their biometrics (aided through biofeedback cues that are both visual and aural) to navigate up and down within the environments, changing their color, form and location.
Each world of STRATA has it’s own unique composition, written to elicit a state of calm as it washes over the user. All audio is responsive and changes based on the user’s biometrics.
The STRATA Pillow was custom-made by The Mill and hides most of the sensor technology. The user rests their hands on the pillow as it sits in their lap, enabling sensors to wirelessly transmit GSR and heart rate data to the app.
Chest band that measures breathing via chest expansion.
Muse EEG headband delivers brain wave data that measures the user’s state of focus and calm.
STRATA represents a radical imagining for new VR applications, biometrics as a control scheme, and a step forward in responsive immersive visuals. The potential product and software applications of STRATA span multiple industries and verticals, such as: