Designer, 3D Artist

5 Months (08 - 12.2020)

High Fidelity Prototype
User Scenarios
User Journeys

Sara Caudill
The goal of the environment is to introduce the user to a cultural tradition as a guest and transition to a participatory role as a performer of the tea ceremony. Upon donning a headset, the user is welcomed in a garden setting and led to a chashitsu (tea room).  The user can physically move to inspect the interior of the space and interact with decor to prompt voiceover explanations.  When interacting with an artifact, users may lift and move the object.

Tools: Autodesk Maya, Unity Game Engine, Oculus Quest

One of the first steps in developing the story and function of the experience was determining who would go through it and what they would use the space for. We developed two personas: one focused on learning more about a culture and the other feeling more confident within the culture.
Frank, mid-60s, Retiree

Frank is a recently-retired federal government employee who lives in northern Virginia.  He enjoys spending his afternoons exploring the galleries and exhibits at the Smithsonian museums scattered across Washington, D.C. and spends his evenings watching travel documentaries, both on TV and on YouTube.

Pain Points: Frank has a lot of time on his hands and is often bored in his retirement. He wants to experience a different culture, but has limited mobility and doesn't travel very well.

Goal: Learn nuances of Japanese tea ceremony to improve cultural literacy and satiate curiosity
Ayami, 15, High School Student

Ayami, a 2nd year high school student in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, lives with her Mom and sister while her dad is mostly away for work. Her favorite subject is history, and she loves visiting historic landmarks around her city. Ayami has been looking for a club to join after school that combines her academic interest and desire to make friends. 

Pain Points: Ayami becomes really anxious when she has to perform in front of others, usually leading to her making many mistakes and feeling further embarrassment.

Goal: Diminish her anxiety and gain more confidence in practicing tea ceremony for an audience
Sara and I divided and individually developed the tea ceremony instruments. I created half of the 3D objects such as the water ladle, bamboo whisk, tea powder scoop, wall scroll and hot water kettle. Sara created the tea bowl, matcha powder holder, tea bowl and water waste bowl. I created the teahouse interior and Sara added scripts and settings to make the object interactions possible. She also voiced and recorded an introductory monologue that gives an overview of the meaning of tea ceremony.
Tea ceremony instrument reference (left) and arrangement in VR (right)
Screenshots of user interaction in first iteration
At the midpoint of the project and after the the first iteration was complete, I made further refinements to the experience such as adding an introductory garden scene with ambient nature sounds, more realism and lighting to the interior of the tea house, and using a particle emitter Unity package that allowed users to scoop virtual water from the hot water kettle.
Garden entry (left) and refined tea house interior (right)

The user has a preview through the teahouse partition as they make their way to the entrance

The video below shows full experience walkthrough.

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