An Extended Reality Floatation Tank Experience for enriched wellness
We designed Fluito, an extended reality floatation tank (pod) system for enriched wellness experiences.
Our overarching goal is to understand how to design playful interactions in water settings. To begin contributing to such an understanding, we selected a floatation tank as a research vehicle and decided to explore playful experiences in such a floatation tank.
Our resulting prototype is called “Fluito”, using the Latin word for floating. Fluito features a unique combination of technology (a floatation tank, a virtual reality (VR) headset, a heart rate sensor, and a pneumatic system) that leverages water’s affordances to create and amplify different experiences, such as play, relaxation, and bodily illusions.
We used a waterproof light-based wireless heart rate sensor and transmit the data in real-time to the development platform Unity 3D. We used pumps outside the tank to create bubbles inside the tank to offer tactile stimuli, delivering air through hoses attached to the tank’s wall. The bespoke pneumatic system consists of four 5V air pumps connected to a microcontroller. The microcontroller wirelessly communicates with Unity 3D over WiFi.
Experiencing Fluito means joining a journey guided by a virtual water spirit. The virtual water spirit helps the participant to travel through different VR worlds in which they experience different ways to be engaged with water, ranging from relaxing to exciting, such as diving, drifting afloat and being almost weightless. Through this journey, both the water spirit and the participant will (hopefully) transform themselves towards becoming better beings through collaborating.
The image shows the different VR worlds the user travels through.
The water spirit will guide the participant through different VR worlds where they must overcome various challenges, such as controlling their breathing and guiding the water spirit in collecting virtual objects.
With this project, we aim to demonstrate how interactive technology can be designed to facilitate enriched wellness experiences.
“Fluito ” received the “Honorable Mention: Jury’s Best Demo Recognition” at CHI’23, the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2023.
See also our other aquatic work:
Clashing, C., Smith, I., Montoya, M., Patibanda, R., Ananthanarayan, S., Pell, S., Mueller, F. Going into Depth: Learning from a Survey of Interactive Designs for Aquatic Recreation. DIS 2022. Long paper. ACM. Preview video. Video.
Clashing, C., Montoya, M., Smith, I., Marshall, J., Opperman, L., Dietz, P., Blythe, M., Bateman, S., Pell, S., Ananthanarayan, S., Mueller, F. Splash! Identifying the Grand Challenges for WaterHCI. CHI 2022. Workshop (organizing). ACM.
Montoya, M., Ji, Y., Wee, R., Overdevest, N., Patibanda, R., Saini, A., Pell, S.J., Mueller, F. Fluito: Towards Understanding the Design of Playful Water Experiences Through an Extended Reality Floatation Tank System. CHI PLAY 2023. Long paper. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 7(CHI PLAY), Article 410 (November 2023), 948–975. ACM. Video. Talk video.
Montoya, M. F., Ji, Y., Pell, S. J., Mueller, F. Demonstrating Fluito: A playful floatation tank experience. CHI 2023. Interactivity. ACM. HONORABLE MENTION: JURY’S BEST DEMO RECOGNITION.
Montoya, M., Patibanda, R., Clashing, R., Pell, S., Mueller, F. Towards an Initial Understanding of the Design of Playful Water Experiences Through Flotation. CHI PLAY 2022. Work-in-Progess. ACM. Talk video.
We thank everyone who has helped, especially Maria Garcia de la Banda for help in getting the floatation tank installed in our wet lab, Yuyang Ji for his collaboration co-developing the virtual environment and Ryan Wee for his collaboration co-developing the pneumatic system.