A Virtual Reality Museum

'Home of <blank> ' is a museum of homes which connects the living environments

of different cultures across time.

Classroom Project: CMU School of Design, Fall 2018

Duration: 4 weeks

Team: Jay Huh, Anukriti Kedia, Emma Zelenko

Role: Research, Conceptualization, Interaction Design

CMU School of Design  |  4 weeks  |  Jay Huh, Anukriti Kedia, Emma Zelenko

THE CHALLENGE

Enhancing the museum experience

How might we use the affordances of VR to conceptualize an immersive experience for a museum that enables visitors to explore artifacts and information in a more engaging manner?

< insert vr image or museum image>

THE SOLUTION

Artifacts in homes from multiple cultures and time periods 

In this classroom project, our objective was to conceptualize an immersive Virtual Reality experience for a museum use the affordances of VR to make the museum experience more engaging 

Problem Statement

How might we conceptualize an immersive Virtual Reality experience for a museum that enables visitors to explore artifacts and information in a more engaging manner?

< insert gif of home of?>

'Home of <blank>' is a collection of homes from various cultures and time periods containing multiple artifacts that would give overall contextual information of an artifact to the visitor. The experience would also enable him or her to explore connected objects and use them as a portal to navigate from one home to another.

Concept Video

Through our research and observations, we found that currently, artifacts in museums exist without any context like  and hence do not enable a contextual understanding. The context is available through supporting text, but 

Through our research and observations, we found that currently, museums lack experiential contexts of time and place.

The VR experience consists of two kinds of environments- the homes that contain various artifacts related to that particular home and an infinity space that contains 

This could either be missed by the visitor completely or not be communicated clearly enough to give him or her a good understanding of the significance of the artifact. 

The Concept

1. Artifacts as parts of a larger whole

An object in a museum exists in isolation, which makes it difficult to provide the visitor with its larger story, like the people, place, time and culture associated with it. By showcasing artifacts in their actual environments, and through various types of interactions and audio, visitors would learn more about the artifact than through plain, static text.

pot example?

1. walks around to explore

Insert GIFs instead of static images

2. Artifacts as parts of multiple narratives

Explain multiple narratives of the hand axe

like a sun

 

A single artifact has several stories associated with it and these stories also contain other artifacts. The museum experience would allow the visitor to freely explore such inter-connected stories and associations between artifacts as opposed to the linear navigation that conventional museums provide.

Insert home of gif

Journey Map

Extending the experience

Objects favorited by the visitor in the VR experience would be accessible to them even after the experience, on the mobile application.

 

In the VR experience, so as to not overwhelm the visitor, only a few objects within a connection would be visible. However, in the mobile application, all the objects that belong to a particular connection would be accessible.

Aims of the experience

Objects favorited by the visitor in the VR experience would be accessible to them even after the experience, on the mobile application.

 

In the VR experience, so as to not overwhelm the visitor, only a few objects within a connection would be visible. However, in the mobile application, all the objects that belong to a particular connection would be accessible.

Process Overview

Research and Analysis

To understand the ways in which information is presented and interacted with in museums, we visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Through our discussions with Becca, the head of exhibition content and gallery implementation, and our own observations, we identified some opportunities for enhancing the current musuem experience.

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(Left)The museum experience is often passive- just looking at objects from a distance instead of interacting with the objects or other people. (Right) The Hall of Architecture was one of the most exciting exhibits. Because they were so large you could walk below them and feel as though you were actually in the environment where these buildings existed.

We individually generated a list of problems that we saw with the current museum experience and then used affinity mapping to group our findings into four main categories:

Lack of Context

Artifacts are often shown by themselves instead of in the environments they existed in. Even the descriptions of the artifacts don’t explain the cultural significance of the artifact.

Passive Experience

Museums typically require passive engagement where you can simply look at objects, not touch or interact with them. Background information is typically displayed in dry, static text.

Information Overload

The amount of information provided can be too overwhelming, irrelevant to what you are interested, or easy to ignore. Even when information is read it is unclear what you should do with this information.

Absence of a bigger story

It is unclear how objects within an exhibit relate to each other. What is the connection and the message visitors should take away?

Ideation

Keeping these problems in mind, we began ideating about the possibilities for our museum experience. In addition to solving the above mentioned problems, we also asked the following questions:

What is the role of affordances in virtual environments?

How can the (meta)data of each museum item (artifact) be leveraged?

How can visitors personalize their experience?

Can a VR museum provide a shared/collaborative experience?

1. World of connections

this would provide a ways to see how artifacts relate to one another outside of the typical organization of time period, location, or artist. A visitor would select an art piece and would be shown other pieces that related to it in an unexpected way (ex: all created while the artist was living through a war, all images of the love interest of the artist.)

IDEA #3

Museum of homes

a variety of artifacts from history and art museums would be place in recreations of homes from multiple cultures and time periods to create a greater sense of content.

IDEA #5

People’s museum/museum of today

 a platform to share people’s current experiences or what they find valuable.

IDEA #2

Free exploration world

instead of having a clearly laid out set of objects the visitor would need to walk through and explore a world. Many objects would not be visible until you reach a new destination.

IDEA #4

Gamified experience

a type of activity users must participate in while exploring pieces (ex: a scavenger hunt.)

IDEA #6

Museum of museums

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Storyboarding

Of these ideas we felt that the ideas that had the most possibility for novel, engaging experiences that could utilize the 3D space of VR and think about ways to explore large amounts of data were World of Connections and Museum of Homes.

Feedback and concept revision

We shared our two concepts with our professors, Daphne and Q. They felt that the Museum of Homes made good use of the 3D space in VR but did not explore large amounts of data. Conversely, the World of Connections explored data in an interesting way but did not make use of the 3D space. They suggested that we combine the two into one experience.

< insert pros and cons and solution diagram>

We wanted to make sure that if we combined ideas that they felt like a cohesive whole so we spent a lot of time considering where in our Museum of Home experience we could incorporate the World of Connections. We determined that each object within a home could transport people to a separate space that allows them to explore multiple connections.

journey map

Prototyping

After Effects required using images with spherical perspective. Since none of us knew how to draw in this perspective we found images of homes and traced their general shape then added textures and objects in Photoshop. We then imported these into After Effects. We found After Effects to be much more frustrating than we first imagined. Many of the images became distorted when we tried to move perspective.

Since our concept revolved around interior locations with four walls, creating 3D shapes was not as difficult as for other groups trying to create more organic content. For the objects within the room we found existing 3D objects from libraries. The hardest part mapping texture onto objects. It took a long time to find suitable images for wall textures and then manipulate them to fit the shape of our walls.

While we did not find After Effects to be appropriate for creating our 3D spaces it was the best tool for creating our interfaces. We used it for our navigations scenes as well as for adding text and cursors onto the Cinema 4D content.

Audio

Branding

Mobile App Design

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