Loomis State Forest VR

The Loomis State Forest VR app offers a captivating exploration of the Loomis Natural Resources Conservation Area. This immersive experience provides users with a 360-degree view of the ecosystem, starting from a virtual visitor center. The app serves as a hub for diverse tours, each focusing on key aspects of the park’s ecology, ensuring a comprehensive and engaging educational journey. 

Position

Product Design 

Timeline

June 2023 – September 2023

Team

10+ DNR Workers

The Problem

The Loomis State Forest VR app was developed to tackle key challenges. The remote location limited access, hindering educational opportunities. Additionally, a lack of educational content from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) left an information gap on the area’s ecology and management. Confusion, especially regarding timber harvest practices, underscored the need for transparency.

Lack of Access

Land Use Transparency

No Educational Content

Project Goals

The project’s overarching goal was to develop a VR app that not only supports educational efforts but also increases digital access to the park. By creating an immersive virtual experience, the aim was to enhance educational opportunities and make the park accessible to a wider audience, overcoming geographical constraints. The VR app serves as a powerful tool to facilitate learning and exploration of the Loomis State Forest, fostering a deeper understanding of its ecological significance and sustainable management practices.

Produce VR App

Support Education Efforts

Support Digital Access

Landscape Anaylsis

In the landscape analysis phase, I explored existing projects that incorporated 3D maps to visualize information and data. This research provided valuable insights and inspirations for the development of the Loomis State Forest VR app. The accompanying screenshots from these projects served as notable references, offering diverse approaches to showcasing information within a 3D environment. The process revealed that implementing data on a 3D map, especially within a 3D visitor center, posed unique challenges. Nonetheless, the observations and inspirations gathered during this analysis laid the groundwork for innovative solutions in the project’s design and implementation.

Various Inspirations for the project

Gameplay

Glacial Melt Simulation

The Glacial Melt Simulation is a captivating feature within the Loomis State Forest VR app, allowing users to immerse themselves in a 3D and 360-degree visualization of glacial melt in the picturesque Sinlahekin Valley. This interactive experience offers a unique opportunity to witness the dynamic processes of glacial melt within the Loomis State Forest’s ecosystem. Users can explore the gradual transformation of glacial landscapes, gaining a deeper understanding of how the landscape was formed. 

Gameplay

Wildfire Ecology

Within the app, the Wildfire Maps and Visualization feature empowers users to explore wildfire locations throughout the state forest. Through an interactive map and immersive 360-degree views, users gain insights into the dynamics of forest succession and the severity of past fires. This component of the app is designed to provide a comprehensive educational experience, deepening users’ understanding of fire ecology and its impact on the Loomis State Forest’s ecosystem.

Interactive Maps

The Interactive Map within the app serves as an educational tool, enabling users to delve into the diverse components of ecology within the Loomis State Forest. Through this feature, users can actively engage in learning about the forest’s various ecological elements. Whether it’s studying different habitats, tracking wildlife, or understanding the impact of climate change, the Interactive Map facilitates a hands-on and immersive educational experience, fostering a deeper appreciation for the state forest’s rich biodiversity.

Real World UI

Incorporating real-world UI (User Interface) elements into the Loomis State Forest VR app enhances user interaction and accessibility. These intuitive interface elements bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds, ensuring a seamless user experience. By integrating familiar UI components, such as menus and navigation tools, users can effortlessly navigate the app, access educational content, and interact with the virtual environment. This real-world UI integration elevates the app’s usability, making it a user-friendly and informative resource for exploring the Loomis State Forest.

Final Designs

View some image captures of the final designs for the Loomis State Forest VR project. 

Outcomes

While the Loomis State Forest VR app is yet to be released to the public, its reception within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been exceptionally positive. Many DNR employees have expressed admiration for the project, recognizing its innovative approach in the natural resources sector. Additionally, a presentation of the app, led by myself and a DNR intern, at a forestry conference garnered significant acclaim and appreciation from attendees. This early feedback underscores the app’s potential to make a meaningful impact on the educational and conservation efforts surrounding the Loomis State Forest once it is made available to a wider audience.

Project Development Photos

Throughout the project development, both students and faculty generously volunteered their time, bringing diverse skills to the table.

From getting hands-on with field equipment to supporting the software design process, everyone pitched in. We even orchestrated drone flights to capture Kamiak Butte from exciting angles. These snapshots highlight the teamwork and dedication that fueled the creation of Kamiak Butte VR, making it a truly collaborative effort. Check out these behind-the-scenes moments that capture the essence of our journey.

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Kamiak Butte VR

App to Support Virtual Placed-Based Learning of a rural area County park in Eastern Washington. 

Overview

I started the Kamiak Butte VR project in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to distance learning for an undergraduate Ecology course at Washington State University.
 
Using virtual reality, computers, and mobile devices this project enables students to engage in a 360° virtual exploration and learning experience of Kamiak Butte County Park. The project was used to replace the physical field trip and is now used as supplemental support for the course. 

Timeline

August 2020 – Spring 2023 

Deliverables

VR Application, WebGL App

Contributions

Product Designer, Researcher, 360 Photogragher 

VR User Interface Design to Promote Field Studies

My master’s thesis focused on the use of the Kamiak Butte VR alongside the physical field trip in the Natural Resource Ecology course.

Design Process Grounded in User Research & Learning Theories

The design process began with extensive user research, encompassing surveys, interviews, and usability testing. This approach allowed me to gain deep insights into the needs, preferences, and behaviors of the target audience. By understanding the expectations and pain points of users, I could tailor the virtual exploration of Kamiak Butte County Park to meet their specific requirements.

Prototypes & Iterative Design

Over a span of four years, I implemented several iterative designs for students in the Natural Resource Ecology course. The images below visually depict the evolution of my design iterations for this project. These pictures truly illustrate my growth as an interaction designer over the years.

2020 Design

2021 Design

2022 Design

2023 Design

User Feedback Designs

I collected feedback from over 150+ students through surveys and interviews. This information was employed iteratively in the design process of the project.

Information Architecture & Level Design

Originally, I implemented a user interface with six buttons, each starting a different tour. However, user feedback revealed navigation challenges, particularly difficulty in finding scenes within a tour. To address this, I redesigned the UI, incorporating multiple tabs to simplify scene selection within each tour.

  • “My biggest problem was trying to find a section of one scene across the entire site”

Label Improvments

Maybe students expressed that better labels on the real world UI componets would improve their  navigation in the experience in the tour, therefore I added labels under hotspot icons to improve the users experience.  

  • “Everything is amazing, only thing I would add it video/picture titles before you click on the video.”

3D Map Interactions

Initially, the 3D visitor center featured a non-interactive topographic map for aesthetics. Responding to student feedback, I added interactive features to the 3D map, allowing users to explore data overlays and location markers.

  • “I think a way to improve the hybrid field trip experience is the lobby that you first access. It would be cool if you could move and see the topography of Kamiak Butte from that little display up close.”

Seasonal Change

The Seasonal Change componet of the project was orgnially my idea and alot of students expressed their apperication for this aspect of the tour. Therefore, I worked to create improve the UI to change seasons. 

  • “The favorite part of the virtual field trip was being able to see seasonal changes without having to wait for it to happen in real life.”

A New way to Discorver & Learn about the Natural World

Kamiak Butte VR is a one of a kind project which promotes place-based learning in a rural area in Washington State.

Collaberation & Technology

I’m grateful for 50+ Washington State University students and faculty who volunteered to work on the Kamiak Butte VR project. We secured two grants totaling $45,000 to support the development of the project.

Results

Kamiak Butte VR has been successfully integrated into the curriculum of the Natural Resource Ecology course for six consecutive semesters spanning a three-year period. With over 500 students actively engaging with the software as a vital component of their classroom activities, it remains an integral part of the course, complementing the traditional physical field trip to Kamiak Butte.

  • This hybrid combination completely blew my mind! During the break I spent hours showing my family this virtual site. Everyone was excited to see the animals, the snow on the months with the panoramic views.
  • The effort and time put into this website are astonishing, it is extremely organized and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. 

Seattle Pops

Web Design

Overview

Seattle Pops, a beloved popsicle store located in Seattle, Washington, played a significant role in my undergraduate journey. Taking on the roles of WordPress Developer, UI/UX Designer, and Information Architect, I spearheaded a transformative redesign of their website during the Fall of 2019 as part of the Multimedia Authoring course at Washington State University.

Timeline

September 2019 – December 2019

Deliverables

Website UI, Online Store, New Menu, 

Contributions

Website Design, Protyopes

Screenshots

The project’s foundation lay in the creation of detailed prototypes and wireframes. 

Style Sheet

Seattle Pops logo colors contain fun bright colors. It was really cool to integrate thier colors throughout the website to make elements pop!  Careful consideration was given to typography, color schemes, and imagery to evoke a sense of the Seattle Pops experience. The result was a visually captivating platform that resonated with the brand’s identity and captivated users.

Typograghy

ABC Diatype

Mint

Mint

Mint

Protoypes

The project’s foundation lay in the creation of detailed prototypes and wireframes. These served as the blueprint for the website’s structure and functionality.

Information Architecture

Restructing the information on the seattle pops website was critical in 

A pivotal aspect of the redesign was the strategic restructuring of the website’s information architecture. This involved reimagining the menu structure, streamlining content categorization, and optimizing the flow of information. The goal was to create an intuitive and seamless browsing experience for visitors.

Old

Flavors

Locations

Catering

Our Story

Contact Us

Online Shop

New

Home 

Menu 

Locations 

Order Online 

Catering

Giving Back 

 

Old with the New

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Old Website

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New Website

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Development Pictures

Throughout the project, collaboration was at the forefront of our approach. Engaging with the Seattle Pops team, we captured moments that exemplified the synergy and dedication poured into the redesign. These candid snapshots serve as a testament to the collaborative spirit that fueled the project’s success.

Results & Reflection

The culmination of our efforts was met with resounding approval from the owner of Seattle Pops, who seamlessly integrated the redesigned website into their hosting service. This not only elevated the online presence of Seattle Pops but also garnered recognition from the Digital Technology and Culture program at WSU.

“which recognizes students who explores the principles of web design, coding, information architecture, and usability in a global cultural context”

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