The Spectacles Creator Program was an opportunity for me to experiment with the creation of an environment for AR-based improvisation using their wireless hands-free AR glasses. During the residency, Snap Inc. sends you a pair of not yet for sale Snap Inc.’s Spectacles to use and create experiences that “push the limits of AR experiences.” I received the AR Spectacles for 3 months and Snap asks Creators to make at least one Lens using Lens Studio, Snap Inc.’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
The creation of moonshot: solos for your home and the trial rehearsals with the app as a movement partner made me realize the importance of a hands-free device for the investigation of an Augmented Reality (AR) movement experience. Snap Inc.’s AR wireless glasses, Spectacles, imagine the possibility of conducting, fabricating, and/or controlling an immersive AR space with 3D Hand Tracking and perhaps body tracking in the future.
During my time in the Spectacles Creator Program, I created two lenses for Spectacles 2021. The lenses, named Bubble Push and Bubble Room, were two iterations of a seemingly simple idea—moving bubbles through space using the body.
I began the program familiarizing myself with Lens Studio and the Spectacles and how they communicate with Snapchat.
I rolled through the basics of Lens Studio creating small prototypes to see how things looked through the Spectacles in relation to how they showed up on the preview window in Lens Studio. I watched quite a few tutorials on how to create different effects in Lens Studio until I finally landed on the 3D Hand VFX template accessible within Lens Studio. Most of the templates and tutorials available are for use with a handheld phone because Snap Inc.’s AR Spectacles are not on the market yet, so translating was required for most templates to work on the Spectacles. Anything I used from the 3D Hand VFX template had to be re-created in my new project for Spectacles.
Within the 3D Hand VFX template there was one example that had the ability to attract and repel—Fish Swarm—so I did not have to start from scratch. I honed in on connecting the dots of this template because it was closest to what I had envisioned when imaging a body controlling bubbles in space. The Fish Swarm template has a pretty complex VFX Map so this took some time, but soon I was able to understand the connections and land on how the bubbles I envisioned could react.
The first thing I worked on was illiminating materials and effects that I didn’t want in my interaction. For example, I chose to have the right and left hand have the same reaction and there were several color corrections in the template that don’t make sense on Spectacles because I wanted the user to feel as though they were still in their own environment with the bubbles.
Next, I created a Flipbook Sample material—basically a png grid of images that the script flips between i.e. rainbow-colored bubbles.
For Bubble Room, I was initially hoping to have a dancer carve their way through the bubbles, repelling them as they moved and showing where they had been—creating a negative space trail. However, because of the small FOV area in the Spectacles and how the Spectacles translate depth this seemed out of reach in my time frame. In Bubble Room, the bubbles move like bubbles—slowly around the space—and when a hand is introduced they move as if air has affected them.
For Bubble Push, the bubbles are pulled toward each other as they alternate rainbow colors. The user has to locate the collecting bubbles and can use either hand to repel them into space. Once the collection of bubbles is repelled, the user can continue to repel the bubbles or find the collecting bubbles again to repel more. The result is a more satisfying cause and effect reaction than the more subtle reaction that happens in Bubble Room.
Both iterations informed each other—and about four other versions were in the mix—but these two stood out as clear different reactions that produced different movement qualities when inhabited by the viewer/participant.
I will post some videos of my daughter’s experience in Bubble Room (left) & Bubble Push (right) as soon as I edit out the Spectacles (as my NDA prohibits me from showing this new version just yet.