By: Alexis Dunn ’19
Silent Connections is a 360 video experience using virtual reality technology (VR) to allow the user to see what it’s like to live life in someone else’s shoes. The user takes on the role of Alex, a student, friend, child, nature enthusiast, and a deaf person. The experience was created by a team of Summer student hires and their goal for this prototype is to evoke empathy within the user. As well as, dispel any potential biases, make connections, and encourage effective interaction between people with different experiences and backgrounds.
The official debut of the brand new project was at this year’s South End Art Hop. A few of the team members and other EMC staff members who worked the tent had a few things to say about the experience:
“We did have a steady stream of people wanting to try it out. People seemed absorbed in the story and it took minimal time for them to get used to being in headset…. people seemed committed to the experience and really embraced it after the initial (rather noiseless) first scene. By the time people “entered” the Dr. Office scene, the audio and visual cues helped them better understand the character they were “playing”. I heard only positive comments from people leaving the headset.”
Adam Walker, Senior Technical Project Manager
“A woman who has approached the EMC about doing an environmental empathy project loved the experience and kept talking about it and referencing specific moments. A boy of around 10 years old played the whole experience and said he enjoyed it.”
Erika Skorstad, Professional Writing ‘21
“So in the tent, we tried to have one the person experiencing the piece on one side while keeping others away to keep from spoiling the deafness reveal, but we also didn’t want to isolate ourselves so we had a monitor that could be seen from outside the tent which definitely got some attention. I found the reaction to be great. I even had someone from a different booth ask me to reserve a time for them to try it because they had heard a lot of good things about it.”
Mathew Roache, Film ‘19
“We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to hold people’s attention for the full 15-minute experience since Art Hop is usually more fluid than that, but we were pleasantly surprised! We had minimal downtime in between tests and almost everyone stayed for the entire experience. People seemed to be really interested! We had a number of people stop to watch and ask us questions about the project. A couple people had deaf family members and they were especially interested, which was really cool to see. All told I’d say the event was successful.”
Thomas Reynolds, Game Design, ‘19
Overall, the debut was a success. The team was able to show off their hard work while bringing people together in an exciting, emergent way.
The Emergent Media Center (EMC) at Champlain College is an award-winning experiential learning center of innovation. The center supports the talent and creativity of Champlain College students in the design and production of games, mobile apps, physical prototypes, video, virtual reality, and other experiences. Guided by experienced faculty and staff, EMC students create solutions to challenging problems through processes that include stakeholders—from local to global. As rapidly evolving technologies reshape the world, the EMC inspires, educates, and mentors next-generation media creators, leaders, and entrepreneurs to create meaningful solutions in the areas of health, education, social justice, business, and finance.