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Squirrel Elysium is an immersive, playful exploration of seemingly mundane urban wildlife. By intensely focusing on the humble squirrel, this project elevates its status and challenges our perception of scale. Combining VR and storytelling, it invites audiences to reconsider their place in the natural hierarchy and fosters a deeper appreciation for the enchanting intricacies of life surrounding us.

2023 Spring MFA Individual Thesis Project
Categories: VR/AR/MR Design, Design Research
Tools: Unity, Blender, Adobe Premier
Team Member: Ben Hooker (Instructor)

The conventional VR wildlife experiences often lack an intuitive inner control panel and predominantly feature national parks. The Squirrel Elysium revolutionizes this by offering users an immersive, hand-gesture-controlled experience. Users are plunged into a realm rich with hyper-media that brings our everyday neighborhood creatures to life, redefining our understanding and connection to the natural world around us.

Current virtual animal watching experience lacks immersive interaction, remaining confined to a 2D experience.

How might we
redesign an animal observing experience
in Mixed Reality
to develop a portal that offers alternative perspectives,
fostering empathy with non-human species?

Vision For the Experiments

This a unique serious of experiments that employs a distinct perspective, harnessing technology to meticulously observe and document the resilience and vulnerabilities of the surrounding life, evoking a profound sense of diminutiveness within the viewer.

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Experiment Phase 1.
How To Get Closer (But Not Too Close) to Animals

The overall idea is to digitally transfer the experience of real-world animals to a virtual environment.

* I have also explored various tools and methods to interact with animals beyond Google Cardboard, and I have found that this particular approach provides the most immersive experience to further delve into this project.

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Experiment Phase 2.
Collect Different Forms of Squirrel Presence in Digital

Experiment Phase 3.
Set up 3D Environment

Experiment Phase 4.
Create Interactions

Interaction 01
Wandering in The Squirrel Forest

Interaction 02
360° Viewing Squirrel

Interaction 03
360° Viewing Road Squirrel And Its Soul

Experiment Phase 5.
Develop the 360 view

Based on previous user test, using hand tracking to move in a space needs higer cost of training while experiencing the 360 scene is more intuitive and impressive.