Keep your cool.
SIGGRAPH 2017’s VR Village was jam-packed with a variety of immersive technologies. From haptic wearables, multiplayer VR dance parties, to a slew of mixed-reality demonstrations. Amid the madness, I found myself relieved to discover VFX studio The Mill’s latest meditative VR experience, Strata.
Before putting on the Oculus Rift, the developer placed a headband on me, called Muse, to track my brainwaves—to monitor wether or not my mind was calm or active. Muse is described as a meditation assistant, but in this case it was used to help Strata tune into my heart rate, breathing, and stress levels. The experience can respond to my emotional state and create a virtual world depending on that data.
I was also fashioned with a chest band that measured my breathing via chest expansion. As these biometric sensors measured my EEG (brainwaves), GSR (stress levels), heart rate, and breathing, the data was fed to the Oculus Rift, which then influenced the visuals and audio of my experience.
The goal is to calm yourself in order to levitate through various worlds as Strata generates audio and visuals to help you focus; taking guided meditation to a whole new level. Whenever my mind wondered off, the magical abstract shapes that were breathing in sync with me would give me a gentle reminder to bring back my concentration to my body. I can easily see how in the long run this could teach an individual how to train their physiological activity to handle anxiety and stress.
Because the environment was continuously responsive to my biometrics, it became a personally curated meditation, with a unique composition for each little movement of my body.
Strata gave voice and form to the invisible happenings within me. The minimalist designs with the dreamy color palettes for each world gracefully reflected me back to myself; my breathing created ripples across the water, my stress level changed colors around me and heart beat pulsed in sync with the floating orbs of light around me. A state of calm washed over me as the experience started to come to an end.
Whether it be therapy for pain relief, anger management or general mental health, applications of Strata can apply to a wide array of industries. As the experience creates a story from your biometrics, you gain a deeper understanding of and connection to your mental state, allowing you to learn your unique path to mindfulness. Namaste.