I was recently awarded the opportunity to work with Microsoft on a Mixed Reality experience in the early Spring, Mixed Reality is a term that covers the increasing overlaying and blending of the digital and virtual world with the ‘real’ world. I’m a long time enthusiast for Augmented Reality, and this was a dream come true to get to work with, to me, one of the most exciting pieces of tech on the market right now, the Microsoft HoloLens. The HoloLens is the current market leader for AR, it is still very much in it’s early development, but to me that just makes it more exciting, to be a part of the creative development of what might be a game changing technology. I took this an an opportunity to explore one of the areas of design I am most passionate about, Holisim.
Due warning: This project deals with a big concept, it’s hard to understand, and even harder to communicate, I see this project as the first tentative step towards my goal. I, and others like Dr. Daniel Christian Wahl, truly believe that Holistic thought is a vital concept for the survival of humans and our precious planet. It has been a long road of research for me, inspired and started largely by my exploration into Shinto and Japanese thought, a lot of which you can read about on the other pages of this blog. To learn more about the neXus project please see below.
neXus – designing the next designers
The ability to think holistically is a key factor in the shift towards sustainability. To create better, more conscientious designers and consumers, an understanding of the underlying connections between man, nature and the built environment is not only as essential as it is urgent, but it can also be highly productive. Fruitful design areas like the Circular Economy understand and harness the power of connection and cyclicity. Our actions have consequences; the plastic bottle we throw away today enters into the fish we consume tomorrow.
The choice we make as to whether we see ourselves as solitary creatures, disconnected from each other and our world, or as co-creative participants in a continuously transforming, sacred and meaningful process, determines how we understand and employ ethics, design, and technology.
But how do we teach others to comprehend systems whose very vastness defies comprehension? It is not possible for a single adult brain to envision the full complexity of the networks of which we are a part, so the vastly elaborate system is broken down into understandable ‘truths’. This has been very successful, leading to scientific understanding, medicine and technology. Recent work in fields such as Quantum Physics and Quantum Computing have shown our past models to be incomplete, but as children we are still taught mechanistic, reductionist worldview.
We must focus on opening the minds of the next generation, of creating a new type of designer and consumer with an understanding of the sacred position they hold in the network of reality. We can teach them as we have always taught them, with stories, with play and archetypes. All humans learn through narratives and games, the video games our children are playing now are teaching them something… I think it’s time we started seriously considering what that is.
NEXUS is piece of interactive philosophy. It aims to teach the fundamental lessons of holistic thought to young adults, at an age where the stories we hear can have a huge effect on the way we view the world.
This project is still very much under development, but I will briefly share HOW the game test level works at this point. There are two main educational points I am trying to teach, here’s what they are and how I’m hoping to get the message across.
1. Everything has value
When playing the game ANYTHING can become a crucial game piece. A plastic bottle, your mobile, a sandwich. Once you pick up an object it ‘activates’, and the hidden energy inside the object is ‘revealed’. This is represented by a ‘spirit’ emanating from the base of the object. This spirit is then permanently attached to the object, if you move the object the spirit will move too. There is no such thing as waste or garbage in the game, everything around you can be a valuable game piece for completing the level.
I wanted to create a new, more direct interaction with the digital content with-in the mixed reality setting. Rather then using the standard methods, for example gaze or voice commands, I wanted there to be a more tactile feedback and relationship between the real world player and the holographic projection. It is my hope that the feel of manipulating the holograms by actually touching and moving real world objects will create a more tangible and so memorable experience, and that this will also help create a more subtle blending and blurring between the two worlds.
2. Everything is connected
Once you have activated two objects the ‘connection’ between them will also appear thorough a simple line visualisation. You can create more complex networks by adding in more objects. You must then move the objects to create your desired network, in this example level you are asked to create a pyramid network shape. Once you have manipulated the network into shape correctly an event, in this case a cherry tree bursting into bloosom, is triggered.
The lesson here is that by carefully and considerately manipulating the objects and their associated networks, you can cause amazing, beautiful things to happen. The random objects in the world around you may at first glance appear to be meaningless, unconnected and valueless, but on closer inspection and consideration we can understand, that instead they are meaningful, connected and valuable.
Further reading into Holistic thought can be found here.
More information on the HoloLens here.