Infinite

Infinite is a website and VR based experience, which enables users to preserve their memories from digital assets and prepare them to be experienced in the future by their families.

THIS PROJECT WON A BEST AWARD IN 2018 IN THE STUDENT INTERACTIVE CATEGORY.

The Challenge
Memories were once preserved in video tapes, photos and heirlooms – which are now becoming obsolete. Today we upload and share memories online in the form of digital assets. However, most users ignore what happens to digital memories after death. Individuals become digital ghosts; just owner-less digital assets. Social media allows for memorialisation but mostly are inefficient and patchy. The deceased’s social-media profile becomes a ‘digital grave’ in a dispersed ‘digital cemetery’ that is inaccessible or unknown to descendants who could become disconnected from their family history.

The digital-era means in its current state that memories will be stored on diverse, insecure, platforms where the experience is flat and unengaging. Digital memorialisation is an under-researched topic but I found a body of research to support my design decisions. Emotional barriers of grieving and remembering, and users not considering their digital legacy were key points to consider in the design. It is also important that a variety of cultures and their way of customs and traditions are considered.

Design Problems:

What happens to all that stuff that I post online, let alone my accounts? How can I ensure that future generations in my family know who I am? How can I prevent to be a disconnected digital ghost in an infinite digital cemetery?

The Solution
A solution would be a single platform where families can create engaging memorial content to share. Individuals can also choose how they want to be remembered, rather than by others. It was important to use available, if nascent, technologies alongside established ones future-proofing the project by integrating future technologies. After considering various media, I chose a desktop-only website, because of screen real estate needed to effectively access and create memory spaces, and Virtual Reality (VR). Websites are ubiquitous and the best choice to preview and integrate digital assets into a personalised virtual space. The website is an initial touch-point, creation-tool and go-to platform for accessing memories in an immersive environment. A virtual environment celebrating a family member’s life and personality, without ‘reliving’ the memories in simulation. Infinite allows for ongoing development.
The digital-era means memories will be stored on diverse, insecure, platforms where the experience is flat and unengaging. Digital memorialisation is an under-researched topic but I found a body of research to support my design decisions. Emotional barriers of grieving and remembering, and users not considering their digital legacy were key points to consider in the design.
Final Design

Infinite was designed to change how memories are experienced now and in the future. It also enables the filtering of memories from trivia and a place where memories are preserved in an interactive memory space of a family history.

Infinite has two visual design approaches: Stellar constellations are used as a metaphor for relationships and allow for cultural diversity and individual interpretation. A 3D hallway where doors allow the user to visit Virtual Reality spaces with personal memories. It is an interactive creation-tool, with an integrated ‘Build yourself’ or Image-to-VR space conversion feature, that enhances the personalisation of spaces allowing for realistic or metaphorical using 3D objects.

The tool allows for the level of detail to be individually set to match the sensitivity of the visitor, avoiding too realistic scenarios that user testing showed could be problematic; for example creating realistic avatars from photographs. 3D objects can be created to access digital assets such as images, videos and documents.

To access the VR spaces the user needs a Virtual Reality headset, something that may be currently unaffordable or hard to use for most users. However because Infinite is a speculative project that that considers use-scenarios in the future, I’m confident that these headsets would be improved in their usability and setup nature, as well in affordability.

In terms of design quality, it speaks for itself that it won Bronze in the Student Interactive Category at Best Awards – however it is important to mention that this idea can be used in so many different ways. A way to document and preserve cultures, events and time. It could be in assistance of preserving memories in people with neurodegenerative disease. The possibilities are indeed – Infinite.