Talkdrop: Social AR Experience

My senior thesis project at Drexel University focused on creating an installation and companion AR app that encouraged students from my school to connect using voice messages exclusive to our college’s main lobby. It was a collaboration with five students from the interactive digital media program and spanned our entire senior year.

As the team’s leader, I began the year with design exercise to unite the vision of our team. We asked ourselves, “What is important to us? What problems do we see in the world?”

Our answers were all over the board, but they had a common theme: social connection.

With this central theme, we conducted secondary researching leading us to Sherry Turkle’s work about technology causing people to be “alone together” and our primary research with students from our own college revealed that students from different majors felt disconnected.

We found that even though students shared the same physical space, they were often in their own individual digital worlds.

Our leading design principle was:

We believe that in today’s hyper-connected society, technology should connect you to the people closest to you. Not just in online communities, but in your local communities.

One of my favorite moments creating this app was using VR art tools such as Tiltbrush and Google Blocks to sketch and prototype how the AR experience would feel like in real life. To do so, I used photogrammetry to create a 3D scan of the school’s main lobby and imported it into Tiltbrush to understand how virtual assets would look and feel in the space they ended up occupying.

Photogrammetry 3D model viewer

My role included:

  • Crafting and maintaining a common vision for the team
  • Developing the UX of the app
  • Creating the art style and assets for the 3D portion of the app

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