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Fall 2017
Collaborative Design Studio I, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

Instructor(s)/Professor(s):
Andrew Witt , Fawwaz Habbal , Jock Herron , Peter Stark

Collaborator(s):
Anesta Iwan , Julian Siegelmann , Kenneth So

Atelier

Atelier is a product and experience that combines the best in VR technology and brain research to deliver a personalized therapy that unlocks your creative space

There have been continuous efforts to create innovative workspaces and we noticed that there was not an affordable, personalized and physical solution that allows companies to improve access to creativity on an individual level. Speaking to business executives and researchers at Harvard Medical School helped us better understand the problem and design the solution.

We built our prototype to test the core of our neuroscience-based mechanism through a virtual reality set-up complete with electroencephalogram (EEG) brain wave tracking and electrooculography (EOG) eye motion tracking. An individually unique experience is created by leveraging EOG and EEG to track the user’s eye movement and brain waves. This helps to gather data about experiences that incite a positive neural reaction which is further used to learn and improve the experience. This helps us prime and lead the brain to a more creative state. 

The technologies are housed in a 'thinking cap' wearable designed for comfort and portability. We hope to continue our efforts to combine neuroscience and technology to position Atelier as a non-invasive therapy to induce a more creative state.

Problem

There have been continuous efforts to create innovative workspaces and we noticed that there was not an affordable, personalized and physical solution that allows companies to improve access to creativity on an individual level.

Companies are pushing for innovation by investing heavily in both external and internal channels. But these solutions have a lot of problems including lack of personalization and issues with space and scalability.

Research

Research on current solutions revealed multiple precedents on workspace improvement to evoke creativity and innovation. These solutions were either capital intensive or involved costly physical spaces/redesign. We then set out to find how we could create more creative workspaces which could overcome these issues.

One way to understand creativity was through neuroscience. Researchers found that increased alpha activity is associated with the deactivation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). The DLPFC is responsible for assessing and filtering associations generated by the tempo-parietal junction (TPJ). When the DLPFC is deactivated the associations formed from the tempo-parietal junction (TPJ) can more easily bubble up, thereby leading us to a more creative state

Design

Multiple iterations informed and evolved the spatial and functional design characteristics.

Our research into the problem space evinced a possible solution - a 3-phase experience designed to increase alpha wave saturation and decrease latency.

The design required an immersive and novel experience for every user, every time. We narrowed our experience design to immersive audio-visual experiences which used procedural and dynamic changes to create a 'fresh' experience for every use.

We envisioned Atelier to be used in workspaces. The experience design dictated the spatial constraints. We leveraged the space and configuration-independent nature of VR/AR technologies to overcome the complex spatial configurations found in workspaces.

Prototype

Atelier has two main components which are housed in what we call the 'thinking cap':

1. 'Eye': The stimulant consists of the VR headset, the audio headphones. These are primarily responsible for providing the stimulus to the user.

2. 'Brain': The feedback component captures the neural activity and tracks the user's eye using the integrated EEG and EOG which allows interpreting the state of the user's mind which is key to the function of Atelier