by Team 4


ZenShpere is an interactive installation that aims to help participants embark on a journey to achieving relaxation through sensory deprivation and reclamation using a simulated underwater environment. We hope that after experiencing our installation, that users feel a sense of calm and a stronger connection to their senses.

ZenShpere is realised through multiple components that come together to form a “symphony” with an underwater environment in Unity acting as the engine of the installation. Users are able to interact with various aquatic themed elements around the exhibit (plush orca toys, scented fish tanks and LED devices) that trigger various sensory outputs that encourage relaxation and restoration.

The various interactive touchpoints are highly tactile and unique, with a variety of inputs such as physical movement, pressure, sound and blowing. These inputs then trigger corresponding outputs (for example moving the orca will cause the orca in the Unity to move accordingly and make sounds while colliding with other objects). We hope that through such unique interactions, that users feel not just closer to their senses, but also to be transported into the underwater environment.

Technical Description

Prior to entering the activity zone, a user is first blindfolded and asked to listen to white noise. This puts them in an initial state of sensory deprivation. They are then carefully guided into the activity zone, where they will recline on beanbags, after which they are permitted to remove the blindfold and headphones. Users will then see that they are in a dark enclosed area, with darkness created using temporary partitions and black draping. On a small coffee table before them, users will be invited to blow on a lit-up Circuit Playground Express (CPX), the only thing that is lit up in the dark space. Blowing on the CPX will trigger the underwater Unity scene and audio to materialise on the TV before them. Blowing into the circuit playground will also trigger a wave to wash over the scene and the bubble machine to activate, causing bubbles to appear in the activity zone, mimicking what would happen if a user were to exhale underwater.

With more light provided after the activation of the Unity scene, users will be able to better see the various interactive touchpoints in the installation. The first one is an orca soft-toy with a circuit playground express (CPX) attached to it. By picking it up and moving it around, the corresponding orca within the Unity scene will swim around. As they are “swimming” in the Unity scene, the orca is able to collide with the jellyfish, trigger an audio to prompt users to interact with the jellyfish hanging above them. The jellyfish, carefully constructed using a combination of butchers paper and NeoPixel LED’s, will light up when the motion sensor detects movement from the user. Throughout the interaction, the jellyfish will continue to light up above the user as they move, creating a sensation that the user is underwater, below a bloom of softly glowing jellyfish.This helps the user to understand that they are part of the scene and are able to not just interact with physical artefacts but also with the virtual scene itself, as if they are underwater.

Last but not least, users will be invited to press down on a pressure sensor in the fish tank before them. The pressure sensor, connected to the Unity scene by an Arduino Uno, will cause a water fountain to bubble and spray in the underwater environment. Users are able to control the height of the fountain based on how much force they are applying to the pressure sensor. All of these interactions are designed to operate in tandem, if users wish to do so. By interacting with more than one at a time, users will create their own personal underwater symphony of sorts, with various audio, visual and olfactory outputs that will be triggered concurrently.

Finally, if users wish to see a visual representation of how relaxed they may be, they are invited to measure their heart-rate at anytime by placing a finger on another CPX. This circuit playground is linked to various LEDs and NeoPixel LEDs that adorn a 3D printed anatomically accurate heart. These LEDs will light up in accordance with the user’s heart rate. Through this interaction, users can perhaps gain a better understanding of their own physiological changes as they relax throughout their interaction with the installation. A similar 3D heart model will also be placed outside the activity zone so that passers-by can also have an idea of what lies within the activity zone.