Tardigrade Experiment

A Virtual Reality Embodied experience that engages multiple senses in an interactive manner.

What does the world appear and feel like from the viewpoint of the tardigrade, the strongest organism on Earth?

The objective of this ambitious project was to provide an immersive experience that simulates the perspective of a tardigrade, a resilient and fascinating micro-animal that is capable of surviving in the harshest of environments. With its ability to produce a substance called trehalose, and its remarkable power to withstand extreme temperatures, radiation, and even the vacuum of space, the tardigrade is a true marvel of nature.
Group project

Duration: 8 weeks

My roles: Co-storyteller, Unity and Arduino programmer, 3D artist

Grade: 9/10
To bring this micro-world to life, the team undertook several experiments to find the most effective methods of simulating the tardigrade's unique senses and abilities. The end result was a multi-sensory experience that included a trampoline that gave the participant a feeling of weightlessness, gloves equipped with arduino vibrator motors to simulate the tardigrade's navigation through vibrations, and an inflatable suit to simulate the cryptobiotic state of these incredible creatures.
The experience was further enhanced by creating a virtual reality experience in Unity connect to an Arduino, which would transport the participant into the tardigrade's world. To fully immerse the participant in the experiment, the team created a large white tent, similar to a corona testing tent, with scientists in laboratory coats to greet the participant upon arrival. The participant was also asked to sanitize their hands at the entrance.
A video of the VR experience in Unity.
Once inside the tent, the participant was asked to put on the inflatable suit and step onto the trampoline. Then, they would insert their hands into the gloves, and don the VR headset. In the virtual reality environment, the participant would experience a transformation into the form of a tardigrade by "shrinking" them, experiencing the world through the eyes of this resilient micro-animal. The gloves would vibrate in response to various stimuli, and the inflatable suit would inflate and deflate to simulate the cryptobiotic state of the tardigrade.

Once the experiment was over, the VR environment would return the participant to their human form, and a "scientist" would ask questions about the experience to gather data and insights. This project was not only a testament to the team's creativity and imagination, but also a tribute to the remarkable resilience and survival abilities of the tardigrade.