Lessons learnt from a live demo of VRSurus at UIST 2015.

Introduction: We introduce VRSurus, a tangible serious game that aims to inspire children to protect the environment in immersive virtual reality (VR). VRSurus is built upon a physical puppet and a VR head-mounted display (Oculus Rift DK2) to create “tangible virtual animatronics”. The player will act as a little elephant called Surus to prevent evil humanbeings from invading the forest. The player is able to use four gestures to cast magical spells: swiping left, swiping right, shaking and jumping. Servos, selonoids and vibration motors will assist with the puppet animation visible to the audience and provide haptic feedback for the player. VRSurus contributes to the HCI, animatronics and tangible computing community by integrating immersive interactive graphics together with gesture recognition and tangible feedback. The game is presented at the UIST 2015 Student Innovation Contest. Video and more details will be publicly available via www.vrsurus.com. Code is available on https://github.com/ruofeidu/ninjaterp.
We did not win the prize because our team and the UIST Student Innovation committee did a very very bad job in advertising the voting process… The top two team got 18 votes and 13 votes separately in 2 hours while there are ~360 people at the conference. Due to the high number of audience, I even did not have time to vote for myself by the mobile app.
However, we demonstrated our project to more than 200 people and actually 60+ people tried the live demo with our tangible virtual reality prototype. Every one is very excited about using gestures to control avatar in immersive VR environment. Our haptic feedback design also wins much appreciation.
Some pictures:
Some lessons learnt from this project:
  1. We can do 4 gesture classification with a IMU and simple Weka machine learning with 99% accuracy.
  2. The combination of graphical animation, audio effects and tangible feedback creates even more immersive experience.
  3. When managing a project, start early and schedule everything with milestones.
  4. Prepare earphones: speakers do not work in a noisy demo room.
  5. Prepare cleaning cloth for Oculus: some audience are not willing to wear Oculus after many people’s trials.
  6. Print out posters, project card, motivational card, name card for all sorts of purpose.
  7. Always ask people to vote; ask close friends to vote as soon as possible.
  8. Prepare prizes for participants who tried the demo. (We did)
  9. Prepare good batteries for tangible wireless devices!
  10. Remember to take photos as many as possible. Take a tripod if applicable.