HEART SPACE VR 

A Master's research project exploring the creative application

of Virtual Reality in conjunction with biofeedback

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What is Virtual Reality?

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Virtual Reality (VR) transports an individual into a three-dimensional environment viewed through a Head Mounted Display (HMD). Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. Today, there is an increasing quantity of VR applications focusing on relaxation, wellbeing and mindfulness-based stress reduction. Some of these applications incorporate biofeedback into the VR experience.

What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a process using electronic monitoring of a normally automatic bodily function (e.g. heart rate variability) to train someone to acquire voluntary control of that function. Biofeedback rapidly ‘feeds back’ information to the user about his or her physiological conditions. The visualisation of this information can support self-regulation and lead to positive changes in thinking, emotions, and behaviour. Over time, these changes can endure without the use of biofeedback technologies.

What is Heart Space VR?

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Heart Space VR is a prototype combining immersive Virtual Reality and biofeedback technologies. 

The prototype utilises a VR headset (HTC Vive) and a biofeedback sensor (emWave Pro by HeartMath Institute) attached to the participant's earlobe to record signals from the heart, like heart-rate- variability and coherence. This data is integrated into an immersive VR environment in real-time. The physiological measurements influence the imagery and soundscape of the VR experience. The more the participant is able to attain a state of inner ease and composure, the more the virtual environment calms down. 

Aesthetically, HeartSpace VR illustrates a journey through outer space towards a heart-shaped star. To navigate towards that star, the participant has to influence the signals emitting from the heart using breath control. Sound-wise, the user is listening to the heartbeat, based on his own heart rhythm.

Conceptually, HeartSpace VR is designed to help people shift from an incoherent state of being (stress, anger, impatience, burn-out, etc.) to a coherent state of being (love, joy, resilience, clarity, intuition, etc.) and to consequently replace negative emotional patterns with positive ones.

"An exciting frontier where VR technology, health and media converge."

- Ben Glass, content creator at Outback Content

Screen recording of Heart Space VR

"The work is clearly relevant to its field, making a worthy contribution in aesthetic approach and conceptual and technological resolution."

  

- Peter Moyes, lecturer at Griffith University

Feedback

"While the intended health aims still need to be tested and quantified, the Heart Space VR experience as a prototype was impressive. "

- Ben Glass, content creator at Outback Content

Possible long-term effects

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Possible areas of application

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Disclaimer: Heart Space VR is a prototype. Each aspect of it would need to be re-evaluated and assessed in terms of Clinical accuracy. The physiological and psychological impact on the user would need to be scientifically examined before Heart Space VR can become available to the general public or any health care sector.

Masterthesis

Griffith University | Film School

Research Folio Project – South Bank

Course Tutor: Associate Professor Richard Fabb

Course Convenor: Deputy Head of School Trish FitzSimons

Submitted to:

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Supported by:

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"An extremely innovative concept moving in an exciting direction. It’s clear this project has benefited from a strong creative vision, some extensive development and the building of strong creative partnerships across several areas of expertise. A well-realised production."

 

- Ben Glass, content creator at Outback Content

Team

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Nina Rath

Producer | Director

Author of 

Master Thesis

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Jonno Archolo

Leading VR-developer 

Unreal Engine Technical Artist

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Patrick Hoffmann

Leading VR-designer

Software engineering consultant

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Mic Black

Technical consultant for 

linking biofeedback technology with VR

Impressions of the project