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Spring 2017, Week 2 – Research and a Little Bit of Development

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Week 2, yay!.

Okay, this week was fun. I got a shot to do a hell lot of discovery in narrowing down my project.

The week started off with me and Kate sitting down and discussing our final thesis project together. While we were looking into the prospects of Thesis Defense and Academic Purposes, it was evident that the project needed to be narrowed down.

After careful discussion with Kate, I will be focussing less on 360 Live and more focus would be put forward on the use of VR View and 360 Images/Videos.

So I began researching on the technological aspects of my project and refining my prototype.

Technologically I Began researching on 360 Cameras which will be suitable and compatible with an iPhone.

The first one which came forward in my head was the Ricoh Theta S. Its a great 360 camera which when wirelessly connected with the iPhone can transfer images and  videos seamlessly.

More importantly, the Ricoh Theta cameras have an open source developer portal which works seamlessly with the camera.

The other camera which I put my hands on was the Insta360 Camera. It works well, and has a pretty cool camera attached to the iPhone.

But unfortunately it doesn’t come with an open source developer API but with a SDK option which needs to be pre approved.

Still, it ain’t chat bad.

Over the rest of the week, I worked upon refining my question and thesis statement and began working on looking at competitive apps that perform a similar function.

I also read more about implementing 360 Applications and Started my research on Programming Languages which I would be using for the front end, data storage and backend service.

For the front end I would be looking upon creating the application using swift and a little bit of unity. I would be using Amazon Web Services for storage and retrieval of data.

Thats about it for now

See you next week.


Spring 2017, Week 1 – MS Thesis Begins

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This is Akshay Iyer, hereby departing on my Thesis Journey towards becoming a Master of Science in Integrated Digital Media. Since this embarks my first week for Thesis, I would like to let you know about the information I gathered and the data I collected.

This week was spent in India since most of my thesis ideal dealt with helping individuals who are living away from their hometown. I had the privilege of having a conversation with other students who are living away from home and had come back to India during the winter break.


This space will soon be the home of more data and more information which I gather and collect and hope as the day progresses, data will improve and my Thesis will reach its finale in a more organized manner.

Fall 2017, Week 13 – Pre Thesis Final Presentation

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Say hello to ‘Home’, your virtual pathway towards fighting isolation.

For this thesis, 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 virtually enters a place, he can stand and view everything around him. As he walks, memories would pop up on the screen, and 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.

For my final prototype, I created a mobile VR Application Called Home. Home is your virtual path to overcoming a sensation of isolation and loneliness. Through Home, an individual could enter into a Virtual World, walk down his memory lane, and relive a few memories. He could also view a few memories as it happens without actually having to physically be present in that location.

Come, let me take you ‘Home

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-5-02-36-pm  screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-5-02-45-pm  screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-5-03-38-pm




Pre-Thesis Presentation

Slide Notes


Presentation 1:

I did conduct my presentation in front of my roommate and good friend, Rugved. He did assist me in slowing down at a few points since it was not easy for him to follow. He also told me to focus my attention more on my prototype journey and research. Most importantly, he told me to speak slowly.


Fall 2017, Week 11, 12 – R+D_2

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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.

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

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

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.

8- to 18-year-olds spend an average of 7 ½ hours a day, seven days a week with media

95% of first-year students report some feelings of homesickness when placed in a new environment.

2.9 % of total percentage of U.S. marriages that are considered long distance relationships

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


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.

Fall 2017, Week 9, 10 – Research and Development

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Oh yes, it’s that time when I have almost reached the end goal, and yet there is still some things which need to be worked upon. A, I wanted to do some more research on how virtual reality could be useful in creating an experience that would take an individual back home. More importantly, I wanted to build an experience that would be extremely immersive and can be re-lived in a more lively manner.

Step 1: Focus on User Testing

Still  was focussing on what my prototype would be, I didn’t focus much on the User Testing part of the phase
I still was iterating my prototype a little bit, just to figure out what i actually wanted to do

So for this week, I have two more featurettes which will be useful

Here’s the first prototype

It involves the impression of you getting immersed without wearing the VR Headset
Imagine your sitting in a cube

Here is Video 1

Here is Video 2

The trick is to play and watch these videos at the same time next to each other.

Another installation I would like to Prototype is Using the Street View 360 and a Google Cardboard.


Step 2:

For the research which needed to be done for this part, I ended up reading one book and one article

The book which I read was titled ‘Family and Digital Media – A Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning‘ it was an exaggerating read which focussed on how parents of the current generation and new generations are adjusting to their children’s liking towards newer technologies. How the advent of cell phones, the internet, and social media has impacted the life of a child regarding interaction levels with families, their loss of interests in the real world and how it has been affected. It also, however, did tell about how the newer technologies have impacted their lives in various fields such as education, (using applications), video calling, voice calling, etc. While the good was indeed a refreshing, read telling me about the impact of technology in the various realms of a child’s life. This book did not dispute anything, but it gladly supports the fact that social media could be an impactful tool in linking family members together using various media. The book majorly established that technology and digital media could serve as a great tool for families.

The second article I read this week is ‘Loneliness, Depression and Sociability in old age‘ through which I could understand how the nature of an individual and levels of Loneliness and Depression change with coming of age. The article also provided me with statistical information regarding the relationship between Loneliness and Depression, Loneliness, and Sociability. It also spoke about how each of these differs between individuals of different genders.Through this article, I received meaningful insights regarding the problems faced by people in older generations and how they need to be addressed. It also spoke about how people of this generation are usually living alone and away from their family, and because of which they are encountering such feelings at a regular interval. Thus the question which I need to answer from this is how could we, use the power of digital media to create a technology that would be assistive for people living in older generations as well.

For next week I would be focussing on reading articles pertaining to the impact of virtual reality in bringing families together. A couple of more books, and maybe some more research on my final prototype.

Step 3:

For this portion, I wanted to get down a few facts that would assist me in this process this.

  1. One in Five American’s Suffer from the Problem of Loneliness
  2. 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.
  3. 8- to 18-year-olds spend an average of 7 ½ hours a day, seven days a week with media
  4. 95% of first-year students report some feelings of homesickness when placed in a new environment.
  5. 2.9 % of total percentage of U.S. marriages that are considered long distance relationships

Step 4:

Here is a list of ten proposed board members, who would be of great help in assisting the idea that I am researching upon.

1. R. Luke DuBois, Conceptual New Media Artist, Co-Director Integrated Digital Media program.


His works have been inspiring, and since I am already attending his class, he is an individual who can be easily approached and doesn’t refrain from helping anyone. Also, he is full of crazy ideas.

2. Chris Ricca, Director of Mobile Development, Tanooki Labs, Associate Professor, iOS Application Development, New York University


Chris has been a great mentor in my field of interest, I have taken a class of iOS Application Development under Chris, and I have also developed a few projects with Chris.

3. Mark Zuckerberg, Founder Facebook Inc.


Mark has an inspiring story and vision to take his company towards glory. After finding Facebook, of one of the biggest tech companies in the world, Mark acquired WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus to become a business to look forward

4. Steve Jobs, Co-founder Apple

I wish he were alive, that way I might not have lost the headphone jack from my phone. Anyways, I enjoyed reading his biography, which clearly stated one thing, that is to ‘Think Different.’ He founded one of the biggest tech companies, and I thoroughly enjoyed his ideology of improving the experience of the user in every single stage of the product, from packaging to the actual product itself.

5. Mark Skwarek, Professor, NYU Integrated Digital Media Program


Mark is one of the finest at NYU when it comes to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality; he would be a great mentor during my journey when it comes to Virtual Reality.

6. Ajay Yadav, Founder-Roomi App


This guy is an inspiration for every individual who came to the United States from a foreign country and started his own company ‘Roomi’. An application that enables users to find listing that requires roommates.

7. Dana Karwas, Professor, NYU Integrated Digital Media Program


A great mentor and UX Instructor would provide significant insights regarding the User Experience of a product.

8. Claire Kearney-Volpe, Professor, the Ability Lab


Claire is an art therapist and designer who would be helpful in the development of technologies for promoting health and well-being.

9. Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon Inc


He would be a great CEO for my idea since his grit and determination to be the best in the business is something to be look upon.

10. Don Norman, Director of The Design Lab at University of California, San Diego


Because he’s just the best author


Step 5: Abstract:

Today, we live and breathe in a universe where family members enjoy their mundane lives living in different parts of the world. Every year you have individuals from a family migrating to different 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. With the advancement in time, individuals feel a sense of loneliness that arises due to staying away from their usual habitats. My thesis majorly focusses on using the power of Virtual Reality and Mobile Application Development, create an immersive experience through which the individual can go back home despite not physically transferring himself there. The inclusion of virtual reality poses challenges in creating an immersive environment, most notably trying to create a sensation of being in a home away from home. Another challenge would be creating an experience of revisiting a memory and using the power of a Virtual Reality device, reliving the experience as if you were a part of it.


Fall 2017, Week 8: Oh wait it’s Midterm

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Okay, seriously, last week was fun, I made something physical as a prototype which could be something to look upon as a possible idea for my future thesis. Let’s face it; I already have thoughts and ideas, and the way in which I thought about this was pretty drastically different. Some pretty impressive points were put forward by Dana which will help me in my midterm presentation, wherein I will be presenting all my ideas to the class. I did do a little bit of research this week, most of it dealt with the fact that I needed to archive data so that it serves the purpose of a family heirloom in some way or the other.

My thoughts did go into those parts for a bit, but there was yet another prototype which came in my head. This one could be influential in understanding and make sense of memorizing family heirlooms in a physical and yet digital environment, and within the context of the same, ensure an archival nature of the whole concept of ‘Home.’

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Fall 2017, Week 7: Back to the drawing board

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Back to the Drawing Board

Okay, coming back to reality, it hasn’t been a really great week. And I need to make something Physical, yup, that was the whole discussion from last week.
So I had to go back to the post-it board and I start writing down stuff, and by stuff I mean quite a lot of stuff. No, seriously a lot.

Okay, it wasn’t that much, but more notably I had to navigate my slight misdirection to including something which will combine the physical aspect associated with the same.

Jotting down a few points from the drawing board I had to focus my research upon the following points
-It should be something which you could maybe touch and feel.
-It could be looked back upon
-The element of surprise remains every time you see it
-It should be unique in itself
-It could have the capability of capturing a memory, and reliving it whenever you felt like.
-It should remind you of moments, which would bring the emotional connection back, between families.

So coming back to the question

What is Home?
For the first time ever, I did not ask this question to anyone, I did not interview anyone, I just thought of every single thing I feel has been lost and found, which when looked upon again, will bring me back to where I am. I consider different phases of my life, its all jotted down in one single word, Home. Wherever I am, with whomever I am, at that instant, I am home. And more importantly, Home isn’t just a roof with people living with each other, or the place where you originate from, or the region/culture that you belong to. Home is consisting of every relation that is around you, it need not necessarily be family. The problem here is not finding a new home, the problem here is going away from the old one. Now how does a person, irrespective of staying away from his previous home, be able to stay connected with them.

Then I researched upon what are the various ways in which moments are being relived and what’s missing in them
We have letters, we have images, we have videos.
1. Letters are a thing of the past, with the advent of technology such as email and chat, it hardly seems that the era of letters is going to be revisited. Then again, letters were one of the best kept memories which could be relived with, but they were always preserved and kept. A personal opinion here, I would still prefer a letter written to me than a voice note that I hear and never go back to it, even if I know that it exists right in my pocket.
2. Images are also a thing for the past, you do have images as hard copies, but where is the sensation of preserving and storing images. The world has reached the cloud, its time to come back down from there and understand the things which people love to preserve.
3. Videos are definitely digital but they lack the physical nature, how do I get these to be relived, or be a mode to constantly remind me of who I am.
4. We have social media, yes, a way to communicate with everyone in the world, yet why do people still feel so distant.

Okay, I never thought I would make sense, but turns out, I am actually making sense with whatever I wrote back top.

So my Question?
Find a physical aspect combined with the digital experience that people can sue to relive memories.

Here are a few iterations of my prototype




Here is also a link to my QSPFR

Also, here are a few books that I looked upon

Habits of Highly Effective Families

Leaving Loneliness: A Workbook: Building Relationships with Yourself and Others

Beyond Texting: The Fine Art of Face-to-Face Communication for Teenagers

Family & Digital Media

Fall 2017, Week 6: User Testing and Feedback, And More User Testing

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Based on the feedback which was received based on user testing and more research, I decided to move forward with the idea of building a social media for connecting families within a single digital media project.

I did receive a lot of feedback, which included new features that enabled users to communicate with and provided me with information regarding the same.

A few updates regarding the most important points which I received is as follows.

  1. Have family groups, such as families withing families, extended family, the entire family.
  2. Do have a feature to connect with families based on user data.
  3. Get a visualization that would let me know more information about my family

Here is a link to my updated Trello board

Amongst this, I would like to point out two applications which based on my research were pretty useful



This application served as an excellent idea for how a timeline feature has been implemented, providing you with simple ways to jump to lower levels in the timeline. Giving a little bit of an idea regarding the application, it’s an app that enables users to share moments, pictures, videos, withing a private group.

Also, I did do a lot of research on handling families as a whole
Has someone seen this episode of Modern Family? It’s awesome and clearly shows how technology has impacted family communication.

Coming back to the prototypes, I did update on the fact that how can it be better improved and changed

Here is an updated QSPFR
And here is the link to my prototype


Fall 2016, Week 5 – Prototyping Week 2

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Step 1: Refine already existing prototype


Here is a link to the prototype


Here is a link to the prototype

Step 2: Research

Prototype 1

Here is a link to my Trello Board

Step 3: Comparative Analysis with Other Applications

Prototype 1:


Nextdoor is the free, private social network for your neighborhood. It is the best way for you and your neighbors to hear what’s happening in your local community. When neighbors start talking, good things happen.


All your team communication in one place. A new way to get more done, spend less time in meetings, and reduce email. That’s Slack.

Facebook Groups

See all of your Facebook groups in one place. Discuss, plan and collaborate easily and without distractions. Follow your groups here or on Facebook, whichever is easier for you.

Prototype 2:


Join the fight against traffic with Scoop, the modern solution to the age-old problem of carpooling. Flexibility comes first, with separate AM and PM trips, the ability to ride OR drive, and a smart matching algorithm that handles all the heavy lifting. The Scoop app matches you with co-workers and neighbors who have similar commutes, letting you save time, the environment, and a ton of money. Scoop is the easy way to take the pain out of your commute.


Getaround is car rental on-demand – rent a car with no paperwork, no waiting, and no hassle. With Getaround, you can rent 1000’s of cars from a Toyota to a BMW to a Tesla and unlock them all with your phone.


Turo is a car rental marketplace where travelers can rent any car they want, wherever they want it, from a community of local car owners throughout the US and Canada.


Sign up and drive a BMW, electric BMW i or MINI in just 2 minutes with the ReachNow app. Find a car in most neighborhoods in Seattle with more neighborhoods coming soon. ReachNow makes getting from A to B easy, affordable and fun.

Step 4: QSPFR

Link to QSPFR