Sundance: Breathe Is A Multi-Person Mixed Reality Experience Powered By Breathing

Breathe offers a fresh take on climate change awareness with a breathing-focused coop experience.

Environmentally-conscious XR is all the rage at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival New Frontier showcase. One such project, a mixed reality experience called Breathe, is offering a new angle on public awareness that uses mixed reality technology and biometric trackers to tug at your heart-strings. 

Open now to festival-goers at New Frontier Central, Breathe was a calming presence on the show floor, offering attendees a brief moment of zen among all the madness. Before the experience could begin, we first had to don a Magic Leap One mixed reality headset along with a strap equipped with biometric sensors that tracked our breathing patterns. Once our bodies were properly calibrated to the experience — the developers could track our metrics via an iPad — a mixed reality butterfly appeared within the tented play area, beckoning us to come closer. 

As my three companions and I ventured into the designated space, the air around us burst to life with pulsating clouds consisting of hundreds of thousands of colorful particles. These digital manifestations served as visual representations of our breathing patterns. With the help of our biometric belts, each cloud expanded and shrank in sync with every breath. The result was a serene, peaceful journey showing how each of our breaths, no matter how small, connects to a vast network of living organisms inhabiting our world.

“A lot of my work has been speaking into questions of our relationship to nature, and the fact that we are in a juncture in human history,” said Diego Galafassi, Lead Artist of Breathe while speaking to VRScout. “We’re asked to reassess and reimagine the way we relate to the rest of the living world. Climate change might be a consequence of our forgetting the atmosphere we are immersed in.”

Image Credit: VRScout

“Breathe invites audiences to contemplate their relationship to the living world through the perspective of air. From a technological perspective, we developed a breathing sensor that connects to the Magic Leap platform and that was the first biometric sensor developed in this platform. I wanted to find a way to speak about changes in the atmosphere without resorting to an image of the globe seen from space. In that, our relationship to the atmosphere through our breathing turned out to be a rich space to bridge the personal and the planetary.”

As the experience continued, we continued to discover new ways in which our breathing connects with the Earth as well as each other. We could even manipulate particle clouds using our hands via Magic Leap’s onboard hand-tracking technology.

Image Credit: VRScout

Galafassi claims Breathe can also serve as a “hyper-local” experience, allowing users to compare the air quality in locations like Los Angeles Australia.

Coming in at around 12-minutes, Breathe is open to Sundance attendees now at New Frontier Central. For more information check out Breathe’s official project page here.

Chatting with the Diego, Lead Artist of Breathe / Image Credit: VRScout

Back for another round of ground-breaking immersive art and entertainment, this year’s New Frontier returns with a new lineup of game-changing projects from some of the industry’s most influential creators. As the festivities continue through the weekend, keep a lookout for more of our live coverage.

Feature Image Credit: Crimes of Curiosity

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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