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While Nanodyssey is an impossible journey in the nanoscopic dimension, natural immersion and sense of real presence are pivotal. To deliver a highly engaging experience, we defined VR design principles and integrated learnings from ethnographic research. The "Place Illusion” principle (Slater 2009) prioritizes natural FOV, congruent sensory modalities, intuitive and naturalistic interactability, and depth cues. I opted for a diegetic approach of UI design that embeds interactive cues into the VR world for consistency and to reinforce immersion.
Another priority was to design an interaction system supportive of seamless self-embodiment in VR. Perception of body ownership in a virtual world does not necessarily rely on having a virtual body (Morignat, Hyperlivings, 2009). Sense of presence is sustained as long as it remains preserved from non-diegetic stimuli, and VR systemic issues (such as low latency and non-congruence of sensory modalities). Supportive of intuitive, naturalistic and seamless interactions in VR, a rich omnidirectional soundscape evocative of naturalistic physical outputs, stimulates the sense of presence through interaction fidelity.
Visualizing motion, while not physically sensing it, can trigger motion sickness. In Nanodyssey, a repertoire of sound and visual cues, congruent with proprioceptive and vestibular signals, helps prevent VR sickness. I opted for two salient qualities: motion predictability and natural feedback. The motion vehicle enables users to control their viewpoints fully and, most importantly, their motion within the VR environment. As a result, the vehicle design maximizes proprioception and optical flow congruence.
To avoid conflict between visual and vestibular cues, I opted for tactics matching Nanodyssey’s diegesis. The cockpit of the nanovessel operates as a rest frame during rotative motions. Teleportation is available to the Nanonaut upon activation of a destination on the map, and finally, galactic space creates darker backgrounds that reduce flickering otherwise conducive to VR sickness.