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Fall 2017, Week 11, 12 – R+D_2

By November 30, 2016Thesis

1.  Keyword

Virtual Reality, Homesick, 360, Images, Videos, Google Street View, Google Cardboard, Memories, Moments, Live Video

2. Question

How can an individual, with the help of Virtual Reality and 360 Imagery, overcome a sensation of loneliness arising due to staying away from their hometown.

3. Thesis Statement

There is a continuous increase in the number of individuals migrating to different parts of the world for varied reasons. With this migration, over time, comes a feeling of isolation and loneliness for each individual.

4. Abstract

Today, we live and breathe in a universe where family members enjoy their routine lives residing in different parts of the world. Every year you have individuals from families migrating to different cities or countries, for higher education, employment, or even marital commitments. Each migration brings with it a culture shock, lifestyle change, and a requirement to adjust to the environment. As time passes, individuals feel a sense of loneliness that arises due to staying away from their hometown. Such a feeling alleviates due to a sense of isolation, or a notion of missing out on important moments in life due to spatial constraints.  This thesis focusses on creating an immersive virtual experience through which the individual can be transported to their hometown, walk around their neighborhood and relive memories associated with the same place at a point of time. With the recent commercialization of Virtual Reality and 360 Imagery, we now have an opportunity to diminish the barriers that restrict spatial communication. This brief virtual experience would enable an individual to alleviate the feeling of yearning for home

5. Project Description 

In the past, people used to live together in single households, spend most of their childhood, work life, marriage lives and old age in the same or a nearby neighborhood. With the advancement in time and increase in ambition to grow in life and move forward, people started moving out to different parts of the same country or same city and started living their separate lives. Eventually, these guys tend to start feeling isolated and lonely and sometimes even get depressed.

The biggest problem I am trying to solve here for an individual who is depressed in this stage is the question ‘What is ‘Home’?’ and how can he, if only for a few minutes, be able to go back ‘Home’ and relive his memories, without actually having to spatially transport himself.

The concept of this thesis is to create an experience that would enable an individual to enter a virtual home, live it for a few minutes, cherish memories, and return back into the physical world.

6. Significance of the topic

This thesis project is extremely significant to recent times especially due to the constant increase in the number of people migrating to different countries. Through this project, the society of extended families is being targeted, since most family members living in distant locations usually feel lonely.

As time progresses, this project would be serving the purpose of helping users in overcoming their feelings of homesickness, and loneliness. This project would also serve as a great therapy for people who are feeling isolated and lonely during their initial days and thereby be able to avoid such thoughts from occurring.

7. Audience

This thesis project will be suitable for people from every age group. There are high school students who, after the age of 18, move out to the city in order to start their own living, look for jobs or even commence college. There are individuals who move to different cities nationally and internationally, due to work, education, or marital commitments.

This project will also be useful in enabling senior individuals to look back at their lives, relive memories which they could’ve forgotten and cherish them again and again. Another important community of people who would be able to use this application would be for disabled people. These people would be able to experience things which they couldn’t due to their disability.

8. Case Study Projects

Facebook Moments served as one of the prime inspiration towards creating this application, it serves a great space where people can come together and share their images and videos. It serves as an individual’s private space, where he can come and collect images store them and relive them.

https://itunes.apple.com/app/id991346515

The path is a simple and beautiful space to capture and share everyday moments of your life with people who matter most to you.

https://itunes.apple.com/app/id403639508?mt=8

9. What is the Ideology behind your project? 

The idea behind my project is to create an experience which incorporates every moment, every memory captured, such as images, videos, messages, and immerse them into a virtual space. It would also be incorporated 360 technology such as 360 Images and 360 Videos which could also be stored and viewed in a virtual space. In short, ‘Home’ would be a Virtual Space wherein the user can stay for a small duration and come back to the real world.

10. Arguments and Claims

-Astronauts have claimed that Virtual Reality has helped them to a really great extent in overcoming the feeling of loneliness that arises due to staying in space for a long duration.

-There is a claim that Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter are making us more connected to the world than ever before. However, research tells us that there are people who are feeling more lonely post the social networking era and that is making them more mentally and physically ill.

11. Data and Numbers

One in Five American’s Suffer from the Problem of Loneliness http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/21/science-loneliness_n_6864066.html

The percentage of one-person households has grown over the last 40 years, from 17 percent of total households in 1970 to 27 percent in 2012.  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/living-alone-youre-not-the-only-one/

8- to 18-year-olds spend an average of 7 ½ hours a day, seven days a week with media http://docs.rwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1062&context=nyscaproceedings

95% of first-year students report some feelings of homesickness when placed in a new environment. http://www.academia.edu/186697/Promoting_a_sucessful_transition_to_the_University_A_Homesickness_Learning_Curriculum

2.9 % of total percentage of U.S. marriages that are considered long distance relationships http://www.statisticbrain.com/long-distance-relationship-statistics/

12. Your Solution

For this project, I intend on creating a Mobile VR Application, with support for Google Cardboard View. In this application, I would be implementing features through which the user could travel around the streets of his hometown, or enter his room, or even travel to a place which he might have visited previously. As the user

As the user virtually enters a place, he can stand and view everything around him. There would also be a map showcasing all the various locations in which the memories have been captured. These memories would pop up on the screen, the user can select any memory and view it in his virtual space, this could be an image, a video, a 360 image, or even a 360 video.

Also, another feature which would improve the uniqueness of the application would be to allow a user to view events happening live using live 360 videos. That way the individual would be able to be a part of any event happening, without physically being present there.

13. Prototyping Process

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There were quite a lot of prototype iterations which were made which would be really useful and helpful in understanding how the prototype process took place.

Week 4,3 – As a start I had three ideas upon which I needed to iterate upon, the first one was to solve problems between people living together, sharing economy in books and vehicles, and homesickness. I just had these three ideas in my mind and I simply wanted to focus on them, so I came up with three basic prototype ideas through which each problem could be solved easily. They weren’t complete, but they did the job.

Week 5 – For this week, I looked into two of my existing ideas, which was to deal with the problem of sharing economy in transportation, and to answer the question of what Home means to people. For the first idea, I created a carpooling application that would enable users to share rides based on which city they are in. For my second idea, I intended on creating a private family social media which would focus on just the immediate family, the extended family, and the entire family.

Week 6 – I refined my initial idea for a prototype and included more features to create a private social media application for a family wherein every family members could come forward and share memories, the same could be extended to close families and then the entire family.

Week 7 – This week I had to focus my attention on making something physical, so I decided to focus on objects which have lost essence since the emergence of digital media. Through the power of QR Code libraries, I intended on storing memories in physical devices which could later become priceless and a memory to cherish for life. Through this prototype, I challenged the emotions associated with physical humans

Week 8 – Midterm week, and for this week I focussed my attention for the first time on Virtual Reality and how it could be impactful in understanding the way a user thinks.  This weeks prototype was a 360 Video of a traditional South Indian wedding.

Week 9, 10 – At the end of these two weeks, I did a lot of research on the various prototypes which I previously made, and more importantly I wanted to experiment how it feels to view 360 Video from a third person point of view. In order to finish this experiment, I made use of 2 computers and tried to create an experience in which motion is being captured between both the PCs. For this experiment, I had an individual walk from screen A to screen B and I am watching it from a third person perspective.

14. Technological Process

Technologies I would probably be using

-Google Maps and Google Steet View API for immersing the user into an experience wherein he can travel back to his hometown.

-Google Cardboard, and Google VR in order to include a stand-alone Virtual Reality Experience

-Mobile Application (Android or iOS), hence Java or Objective-C/Swift

-A Game Controller along with its API, in order to control movements when the individual is immersed in Virtual Reality.

-360 Camera and 360 Video API, for capturing live 360 Video.

15. What is the technological significance of your solution/ process?

The world of Virtual Reality enables users to enter into a whole new world, which is disconnected from their current world. Also, with the current development in 360 technology, it is extremely important in considering the way 360 video enables a user to actually be a part of an event which they could not. Technologically, Virtual Reality is growing and evolving every day, that coupled with 360 Imagery will surely benefit creating an outstanding virtual experience.

16. Conclusion 

This thesis will definitely let the user question himself and ask the question “What is ‘Home’?”. Individuals should be able to benefit from its features and functionalities and relieve ‘Home’ every single day. With the continuous advancements being made in the world of Virtual Reality, many companies are adopting this technology and implementing them in the various walk of life. With the power of a mobile application development, a virtual reality device like the Google Cardboard, I would like to further advance my career in the Product world.

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