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While Nanodyssey is an impossible journey in the nanoscopic dimension, users’ natural immersion and sustained sense of presence are pivotal. In order to deliver a highly engaging experience, we defined VR design principles, and integrated learnings from HCP-centric ethnographic research. In our design approach, the "Place Illusion” (Slater 2009) principle prioritizes natural FOV, congruent sensory modalities, intuitive and naturalistic interactability, and depth cues. For consistency and to reinforce immersion, we opted for a diegetic approach of UI design that smoothly integrates warning signs or interactive cues directly to the world objects.
Another priority was to design an interaction system supportive of seamless self-embodiment in VR. VE and VR research demonstrated that the 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 (low latency, non congruence of sensory modalities, etc). To support intuitive, naturalistic and seamless interactions in VR, we focused on creating a rich omnidirectional soundscape evocative of naturalistic physical outputs. The attention to sound effect design supported the sensory substitution of physical responses with audio cues able to stimulate the sense of presence in a dimensional world that users’ can affect. Our semiotic research resulted in creating an audioscape of naturalistic and organic ambient and user-triggered sounds that seamlessly support interaction fidelity.
Visualizing motion while not physically sensing it can trigger motion sickness. We resolved this issue in creating a repertoire of sound and visual cues that are congruent with proprioceptive and vestibular cues. We invested in two salient qualities: motion predictability and natural feedback. In order to maximize proprioception and optical flow congruence, we designed a motion vehicle that enable users to be at all time in control of their viewpoint, and very importantly of their motion within the VR environment. To avoid conflict between visual and vestibular cues, we opted for a solution that is coherent with the Nanodyssey’s diegesis: the cockpit of the nanovessel serves as a rest frame during rotative motions; teleportation is available to the nanonaut upon activation of a destination on the map. Finally, we opted for darker backgrounds to reduce flickering and minimize VR sickness.