Taru Juurikko

Hackathon SNX.VR: the Virtual Reality’s breath of life

Hackathon SNX.VR, organized by swissnex Brazil, brought together virtual reality, neuroscience, and art. The connecting element between these areas of knowledge was the breath. The marathon aimed to create new functionalities using a device called Virandola, which adds the dimension of blowing as a possibility of interaction within the virtual reality environment. The Virandola is an innovative device Developed by neuroscientist Bruno Herbelin, Deputy Director of the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland.

Check out the photos of the event

The competition took place on August 17th and 18th in Rio de Janeiro and included teams of artists, programmers, musicians, game designers, and 3D developers. The transfer of breathing dynamics to an immersive experience took place within the virtual world of HanaHana, an award-winning creation by artist Mélodie Mousset. Within the realm of HanaHana, players can reproduce body parts and make hands sprout in a desert environment, which, when explored, reveals unusual places. Inside this platform, the teams were able to develop their projects and add new elements and possibilities of interaction.

Learn more about the goals and guidelines of Hackathon SNX.VR

After two days of intense activity, the participants presented their creations in an event at the charming Parque das Ruínas, in Santa Teresa. Breathing and blowing became tools to induce interferences, and multiple interventions in the virtual world, generating sounds, movements, colors, and stimulating emotions. The jury evaluated the works and chose the winner, who will have the creation presented during the World XR Forum, which will take place from September 5th to 9th, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

The participating teams developed different creations and approaches in the hackathon. Check out the projects:

1. Oasis
Group: Alberto de Assumpção, Daniela Tinoco, Pedro Teixeira, and Rogério Leão.
Living is exciting; time is distressing. Creation and destruction are two sides to a story, the link between all beings. “Oasis” is the mirage of the master of time, where the breath pushes our world and releases the energy of creation, generates life flourishing empathy for existence. “Oasis” supplies the soul.

2. Welcome to your mind
Group: João Nantes, Thiago Yaak, and Zeilane Fernandes.
The project uses Artificial Intelligence to create an environment in virtual reality based on the power of human emotions. The spectator immerses himself/herself in an atmosphere of intense colors and strange textures, and the sound of an orchestra. Through the Virandola device, the scene becomes reactive to the user’s breathing, changing the intensity of colors and textures. To create the scenery, the group connected a sequence of neural networks. It can identify emotions transmitted by an image and create new ones composing all the patterns and music of the virtual world inspired by the world of HanaHana.

3. Lung Orchestra
Group: Anny Caroline, Bruno Albert, Jordy Pereira, Luiza Helena Guimarães and Marlus Araujo.
Immersed in the universe of HanaHana and facing both the proposal of the Virandola and the global environmental crisis, the concept of the VR work is based on breathing. The reason is that the air we breathe is the source of body life and nature. Thus, through the exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide, we integrate the cardiorespiratory system of each player to the environment created. The interactive mechanisms of the device, the rhythm, and the respiratory power of the player enables him to enchant and germinate the life of the HanaHana hands while composing and governing his orchestra. The game makes the air visible by creating a growing atmosphere that is influenced by human breathing. Finally, the act of breathing and blowing is the initial impulse of the game but mainly translates into the incorporation between the game and the player in a single vital system.

4. The Paper House
Group: Vinicius Hashirama, Vinicius Martins, Vinicius Gonçalves, and Vitor Lopes.
In La Paper House, the user can blow and interact with objects physically, as if they were blowing in the real world. Within the experience, the player realizes that he can interact with objects that in everyday life, he would not have the strength or capability. What else can the player interact just by blowing? La Paper House is a simple, direct, yet comical experience, in which the focus is only on the fun and entertainment of those who are playing.

Hackathon SNX.BR is an initiative of swissnex Brazil, Pro Helvetia, HanaHana and EPFL, with support from Firjan, Senai, Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Secretariat of Culture, WorldXR Forum, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Embassy of Brazil in Bern.

Photos by Taru Juurikko