VR controller for Deep

Designing a breathing based controller for a meditative virtual reality game

A VR game for mental wellbeing

In 2015, I lead a 3 person design team developing a breathing based controller for Deep, a psychoactive meditative game for the Oculus Rift, developed by Owen Harris and Niki Smit.

Deep allows players to navigate through a serene and poetic underwater world. Movement is controlled by slow, deep breathing which soothes and relieves anxiety in the player. It uses a self-explorative, visually stunning underwater seascape and biofeedback mechanics.

The Deep game and the custom controller went on to be exhibited at the 2015 CineKid Festival in Amsterdam and the DOK Festival in Leipzig (where it won the audience prize).

To learn more about Deep itself, visit the Deep website.

The design

The custom controller was inspired by 20th century diving apparatus, particularly the weighted diving belts used by divers to sink to themselves down to the sea bed. Conductive thread within the controller belt measured diaphragm movement, and the controller housing brightened and dimmed in a soothing response to the users breathing. I lead the design and user experience of the product, as well as building the electronics of the custom controller, wherein Arduino was used to correspond the user's breathing with the game play.


All project material, photos and videos, unless otherwise noted, is copyrighted by Deep.

To learn more about the Deep VR experience, make sure to visit the website exploredeep.com