Late Return: One focus of this project was blind accessibility, specifically for students at Perkins School for the Blind. Many virtual reality games ignore or under-utilize the player's other senses, making the world feel emptier and significantly harder to navigate for the blind or visually impaired. So, many of the mechanics were focused around the sense of sound, and the player is equipped with many sound-producing gadgets to navigate and mentally construct their environment.
Late Return is a virtual reality audio based stealth game set in a library. The player must navigate past a series of noise-loathing librarians in order to return their extremely overdue library book without detection. The architecture of most libraries includes designs and acoustics which allow for engaging sound and level layout for stealth. There are sprawling mazes of bookshelves, and a variety of sound dampening and exaggerating features. The detection is heavily based around the sound levels of the player, so as they navigate and use their gadgets, they must be careful to avoid alerting any nearby librarians. The game and level were designed with the game engine Unity which allowed for easy implementation of virtual reality, audio-based mechanics, and AI navigation.
Late Return: a VR stealth game set in a darkened library in which the player uses audio navigation tools to locate a return cart. Late Return is a VR experience that demonstrates the use of sound for navigation in VR. Due to its use of specialized navigation tools, Late Return can be played by the visually impaired. The player explores a completely darkened library with nothing but several audio emitting gadgets to navigate. In order to win the game, they must use the gadgets to return a book while avoiding detection from the librarians that patrol the shelves.
Unfortunately, most games in VR that can’t be played by the visually impaired because, without visuals, the players have no indication of where they are, the player has no idea where they’re going and where they are in relation to the virtual world. Drawing inspiration from a partnership with Perkins School for the Blind, this project was designed to solve this problem with an intuitive audio based teleportation mechanic that the visually impaired can easily use.
Dispute! A board game aimed to expose players to landlord-tenant housing issues in an easily digestible form.
This project arose from the Engineering Landscapes studio. During that studio, students were exposed to various parts of Cambridge and came upon the posters for the Somerville-Cambridge Tenants’ Union. A compilation of Interviews with that union and with local tenants as well as significant research into housing laws and issues formed the basis for the characters in the game. Dispute! Is an opportunity to introduce the concept of landlord tenant issues to people from a variety of different socioeconomic and cultural viewpoints. The goal is for the players to be engaged in landlord-tenant issues and introduced to the role income, savings, other social issues, and how even issues that might seem as trivial as landlord mood might affect the outcome of those disputes.
A combination of 3-D printed plastic game pieces as well as a wooden laser cut board with movable acrylic spinner and laminated printed cards make up this dynamic board game. Using the format most people are familiar with as board games from their childhood this easily digestible format provides a recreational manner in which to introduce an emotionally charged and sometimes heated subject.
If you want to share your own landlord tenants stories go to disputeboardgame.com
Dispute! Issues with your landlord never seemed so fun!
Coaches of NuVu: an interactive installation that aims to visualize the link between sound and color for people with synesthesia. Synesthesia is defined as “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.” This basically means that someone with synesthesia could hear a friend, teacher, or stranger and see unique colors when they talked. Coaches of NuVu takes three coaches at NuVu; Tessa, Rosa, and Karen, and displays color(s) for each person that a synesthete at NuVu sees when they hear their voices. To more strongly bridge this connection, users will also hear an interview with the coaches.
This project works simply by a user pressing one of three buttons. Each button is assigned to a different box: one for each coach. Every box has a coach’s silhouette cut out of it, and hidden LEDs behind a light diffuser. When a button is pressed, whatever box it is connected to will light up with whatever colors synesthete associates with the designated coach: for example, Karen’s silhouette would light up with blue. Through a pair of headphones, a recording of coach talking will play; this is also meant to help students at NuVu learn more about their coaches.
The Coaches of NuVu: This project focuses on displaying synesthesia and allowing NuVu students to learn more about their coaches in an educational environment. This installation is aimed to help users understand and experience how someone with synesthesia sees the world. By using audio and colors, the boxes can help simulate how in a synesthete's brain, color and sound are correlated. In addition to this, students, as well as outside users, can learn more about coaches through an installation that not only highlights synesthesia but also enables users to learn about life at NuVu.
The project consists of notched wooden boxes that have buttons that play audio and show light when pressed. In the wooden box, it has a cut out of a coach with a pressure fit foggy acrylic material in order to diffuse the light. In addition, the project uses audio as well as sound to allow users to fully immerse themselves into an environment closest to that of a synesthete.
C.A.R. (Crazy Awesome Ride): an electric vehicle intended to allow those who do not have a drivers’ license to transport themselves short distances, as well as practice the skill of driving. It is designed to be aero dynamic, simple to use, and cheap to attain. The vehicle is powered electrically to minimize its carbon impact. The entire car was manufactured by our team in house. All components were easy to attain and bought at a local hardware store. In addition, Vulcan demonstrates the feasibility of individuals building environmentally sustainable and safe tools for their person use.
C.A.R allows an individual to drive at high speeds, as this vehicle was designed to maintain light weight. Anyone is able to learn how to drive this car no matter what age. C.A.R. almost has the same system as a regular car. For the steering, there is a universal joint that allows an axel to spin and moves a pulley connected to axels that move the wheels from left to right. We were given a electric bike motor, which is is held up by a laser cut stand, then there is a gear mounted on the frame that has a chain going to a gear with a sprocket on it in the back, thus moving the back wheels. The basic technology of this project is creating a frame that is aerodynamic so it can go faster and using a gear chain mechanism to move the car.
"Mental Shoebox" is a vessel in the form of a shoebox locked in a complicated way that helps someone empathize with the mental and social roadblocks I have had to overcome to be able to perform athletically in track and field. Made out of wood, this box opens up when the user moves a piece through a maze appropriately to unlock one of four chains that lock the box, each representing a different challenge to accessing the shoe.
The goal of the box is to create empathy with the frustration and difficulty it takes to overcome mental challenges while simultaneously struggling with physical ones. It also helps users understand by creating mindset where they can access the racing shoes and run, having overcome all relevant challenges. While a complicated puzzle to access your shoes is not what every runner wants, the challenge and mental preparation it takes to open a box of some complicated variety, is necessary in preparation to actually run the race. The box is taller than it is wide or long, and has a maze on top the user must complete to unlock the box. Four chain attach the piece that moves through the maze to each side, so that when you have completed each chain, you can life the top off. Hopefully, any non runner could open this box and understand the correlation between mental, social and physical preparation and empathize with the mental difficulty of getting ready to run.
Arrow Catch is a virtual reality game with the goals of either dodging or catching arrows by relying on visual and hearing ability. The audio in this game is panned spatially, allowing people with or without visual impairments to enjoy the game. Arrow Catch was inspired by the students of the Perkins School for the blind. Due to the fact that most of the students who attend this school are visually impaired, the students heavily rely on audio to have great gaming experience. Students at the Perkins school expressed frustrations and the limitations of mainstream video games. Arrow Catch was designed to allow the user to know the direction of the arrows based on sound, making it possible for a user to hear when an arrow is coming near. The user can then catch the arrow based on its proximity.
Arrow Catch was created by two different software programs called Rhinoceros which was used to make sharp, precise, and scaled objects for the game. Lastly, Unity was used for coding the objects, adding sounds and bringing everything into playing motion.