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TerrARium @CMU

Platform: Meta Quest Pro (Mixed Reality Passthrough)

Role: XR UX Designer, Audio Designer


By Students,
For Students

TerrARium was a pilot research project exploring the effectiveness of mixed reality as a tool for exposure therapy in helping high school and early college students overcome social anxiety. The experience is aimed to make experience of simulated social situations that inspire a sense of confidence in social activities while staying in a safe environment with the use of Quest Pro passthrough. TerrARium was built as a platform to aid therapists in exposure therapy treatment, adjustable on a per patient basis.

My Role & Contributions

  • Designed User Experience for guests that may have little background in Mixed Reality

  • Designed the User Interface for dialog and data collection

    • Created UI to give players feedback on voice and dialog selection​

  • Wrote branching narrative for sample experience

  • Incorporated input from stakeholders (CMU) and SMEs in final designs

  • Design documentation

UX Challenge: Back to Basics

One of the key challenges designing for Augmented Reality is the lack of standard conventions for the platform. A lot of this is trial and error, on the fly. To add to the challenge, we wanted to make sure our application could be used by people who had very little if any experience with AR/VR platforms. Despite all this, the fundamentals of UX design are still the same.


Opting for a contollerless experience meant we were relying on player voicing their dialog choices. We had to integrate a tutorial into the experience, as part of the game play, so that the player would be familiar with how they would be making their selections. I also wanted to make sure the player understood which option they were selecting, even as they are speaking it. To this end, we extensively playtested 2 key features:

  • A microphone which provides feedback that the player is being heard

  • A dialog box option that reacts to the selection being made

These two seemingly basic features made all the difference in playtesting, as the players became more confident in interacting with experience, so that we could focus on the actual exposure therapy elements.

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