John Lewis Interactive VR Experience Buster's Garden


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This groundbreaking VR experience, not only allows shoppers to step into a CGI version of Buster’s snow covered garden at night and onto the trampoline, but it allows shoppers to see their own hands in the VR world and use them to engage with five garden characters and control their movements.

The urban garden animals emerge, and make their way to the shopper in the center of the trampoline. Through innovative technology users see their own hand movements in the virtual world of Buster’s Garden, and use them to control each animal’s bounce, spin and nuzzle, all with 360-degree positional sound effects. In another VR first, shoppers can instantly share a 3D film of themselves conducting the characters on social.

Taking 3,000+ hours to develop, this project is creatively and technologically ambitious, a bespoke installation for one of the UK's busiest department stores, during the Christmas period.

To enhance the experience for all ages we chose to enable people to play with the animals using their own gestures, not traditional physical controllers. We utilised hand-tracking with Leap Motion technology, creating our own gesture recognizer to facilitate natural interaction, and provide physical presence in the scene.

To take engagement to the next level, the animals’ faces track users’ hand movements, so people feel as though they can reach out and stroke them, or have a fox or badger nuzzle into their hand.

The five animals and all other vital, sensory detail, snow particles, breath – all had to be kept running at 90 F/ps on each eye; while everything from the fur to the environment had to be crafted so as not to feel ‘cartoony’.

To provide a second-screen experience for spectators, we used a hidden 3D camera, and created a real-time composition of the physical world and the VR one.

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