Gather - Mixed Reality Concept

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Design 483: Microsoft Expo | Winter 2017
Role: Research, ideation, storyboarding, UX/UI flow, UI design, actor, presentation script, presenter
Collaborators: Phillip Carpenter, Christine Choe, Chaeji Kim, Shawn Terasaki
Instructor: Axel Roesler

As an entry into this year's HoloLens-focused Microsoft Expo competition, my teammates and I created Gather, a shared holographic space that enables its users to overcome physical and social obstacles and participate in their hobbies together.


Overview

In the age of the Internet, connection and community are no longer constrained by time and space; however, physical and financial restrictions prevent passionate individuals from being able to meet in person and participate in their hobbies together.

During our secondary research, studies showed that beyond merely discussing an activity, physically engaging in the communal activity together improves mental and physical wellness of the individuals. We endeavor to move the remote shared experience beyond the group Skype call.

Gather allows individuals scattered across the world to share meaningful activity in each other’s physical presence in real-time. It allows for individuals to meet when there is some degree of physical restriction (such as disability or distance) keeping them apart.

By regularly engaging in these skilled social activities over time, communities form among users and individual users become more confident in their technical and social abilities in their local worlds.

 

The Sensor

In order to share the qualities of objects used for activities, Gather works through a sensor that attaches to an object, maps it into the holographic space, transmits its data, and provides a tactile control for navigating the room’s tools.

The Rooms

Using a mobile and web application, this service sorts its users into “rooms” according to their chosen activity and common time slot.

This “room” is the shared holographic space between all participants, allowing each person to share in the others’ presence while remaining in the familiarity of their own spaces.

UI Flow of Gather.

Design Principles

From the beginning, we wanted to ensure that our solution would abide by the following principles:

Creates a delightful experience that incentivizes users to return and build relationships over time 
Initially our direction was therapy, and we wanted to create something that could act as a “Trojan Horse” so that people prescribed our product wouldn’t feel like they were compelled to engage in it. While Gather can potentially be used to accompany prescribed occupational therapy, that is not its sole usage.

Accessibility
So much of our technology caters to well-off, technologically-literate consumers. Once HoloLens itself becomes a consumer product, we see the potential for Gather to be an affordable experience, and to enable people to engage in activities and meet people across the globe without the cost of travel. Additionally, the very nature of our product allows physically or socially-restrained users to overcome the obstacles that may prevent them from practicing their hobby with other people.

Real-time, live experience
For the activity of playing music, it is important that the musicians can listen and communicate with each other in real time to create a balanced sound and a rewarding jam session. 

Brings social experiences into home without pressure of hosting
There is no longer a need to worry about making the house all tidy, providing snacks, drinks, or doing your hair for your guests. You and your fellow participants can come and go from the room as they please.

Excerpt from conceptual UI storyboard.

Provides the means for individuals to help each other improve their skills, as well as positive reinforcement and encouragement to improve
Ideally, each room of Gather is filled with users from a mix of proficiencies in their selected activity. This enables the organic experience of an expert helping a beginner out, while the room provides tools such as a tuner and a metronome to aid in this tutelage.

 

Storyboards

As many of us know, it doesn’t take much for someone to feel disconnected from people around them - sometimes it’s physical distance, sometimes it’s a lack common interests. However, just over the past couple decades, distance has mattered less and less when it comes to forming communities and bonding over the things we enjoy - our hobbies, our passions, our friends.

We would like to provide future friends with meaningful companionship as they explore and improve upon their hobbies and themselves together. This is what we live for, and this is why we Gather.