VR Lab Launch (2018)
Estonian Academy of Arts – Department of Architecture
This autumn Estonian Academy of Arts opened the VR Lab to bring together the expertise on the application of virtual reality techniques in design process.
Virtual reality applications allow to design space from first person view and pay more focus on users’ spatial experience than in case of conventional design methods. They also allow to display and experience layers of reality that are not otherwise visible, and thus expand our perceptual amplitudes. In virtual reality lab we focus on these and other qualities virtual reality techniques hold for architects and a designers. Each semester we offer one intense study course that gives students an overview of immersive design and representation techniques from hand-drafted VR images to interactive VR environments. Over the study course students acquire the skillset to use game engines and other virtual reality applications as a creative medium.
This academic year the main research focus of VR Lab is experience-oriented interaction. Interactive spaces might be difficult to imagine and design due to their large amount of variables. The possibility to test interactive design solutions on 1:1 scale from first person view offers architects and designers countless new opportunities.
The main output of the research is prototypes of interactive spaces programmed to change their parameters in order to stimulate users’ emotional states. We are using biometric sensors to measure the effect space has on users’ emotional states. We are detecting patterns in the reactions evoked by spatial stimuli. We are making spatial parameters respond to emotional feedback. The amplitudes and the adaption logics of such emotion-based interaction are defined by the designer or the architect, while in real time the space is controlled by the user. Bringing together emotion detection and virtual reality techniques, we can test experience-charged spaces that recognize its inhabitants’ reactions and adapt accordingly. The virtual reality lab gives students valuable knowhow about the principles of experience-oriented interaction design.
head of the VR Lab: Johanna Jõekalda
supervisors of the study courses: Artur Staškevitš, Johanna Jõekalda
technical support: Mikk Meelak (Platvorm), Mikk Pärast (Platvorm), Kristjan Männigo (Spin Unit)
photos: Johanna Jõekalda, Artur Staškevitš
videos: lab introduction