Hi! I'm Pratik



I am a Product Designer and I enjoy creating user centric, delightful and humane experiences. I am passionate about inclusivity, social good and designing for spatial computing.







Hello! 👋

I am a Product Designer 🎨 who was a mechanical engineer in a previous life. I recently finished my Masters degree at the Integrated Digital Media program at New York University. I love designing for impact and using inclusive and accessible design practices to create empowering products and experiences that follow humane design philosophies.

I was born and raised in Mumbai 🇮🇳 and since early childhood, I was the person my family always reached out to for choosing things to buy, to pair clothes and even selecting materials to design our new home! I have always had a keen eye for color and design but it took me almost two decades to realize that this could transition into a design career.


A self-taught designer, I was freelancing for over a year when I decided to dive in deeper and pursue a Master's degree. Until recently, I worked as a product designer for NYU where I led design for internal enterprise and consumer products for various schools, departments and administrative units.



I am a nerd 🤓 and super passionate and excited about designing and creating experiences for emerging technologies. I want to explore how Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence can positively enhance the way we use technology. I am also a hobbyist game developer.


When not working, I am always trying new cafés, playing videogames and boardgames, spending time in VR, browsing interesting things on Product Hunt, reading, and often daydreaming 💭



FRAGA

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EXPERIMENTS WITH AR

Design and Prototyping for Augmented Reality


Hard at work to update this..Check back soon!



Vivarium: Augmented Reality Plants for Mindfulness

Graduate Thesis: December 2018 - May 2019




01 Background

Extreme environments are environments that contain conditions that make it difficult for the survival of most life forms. Examples of extreme environments are the Arctic region, the Antarctic region, very arid deserts, volcanoes, deep ocean trenches, the upper atmosphere, superlative mountain regions, outer space, and the environments of all the planets and moons in the Solar System with the Earth as the only exception. Humans cannot naturally survive in these environments.

However, in our current times, with the advancement of technology and thirst for exploration, research and resources, humans have started inhabiting these environments. We have people living in space stations, doing research at research stations in the extreme cold in the polar regions, people living in submarines and exploring the deep sea using submersibles, to remote army outposts in arid deserts and people living and working in isolated nuclear plants and oil rigs.


02 Problem


Antarctic Research Station (L) & International Space Station (R)


Living in these harsh environments can be harsh and taxing. In addition to the extreme climatic conditions, neo-extremophiles are isolated from their friends and family for long periods of time. They also usually live in a confined indoor environment with occasional instances of leaving those confined environments. This leads to increased anxiety issues and depression. There is also a lack of privacy and personal space in these environments.

"How can we improve the mental health of people living in extreme environments?"


03 Academic Research

Our spaces play a big role in our mental well being.Humans have innate tendency to connect with nature.Interaction with indoor plants known to reduce psychological and physiological stress.Plants at workspaces proven to reduce stress and increase productivity.


04 Solution

"Using Augmented Reality Microenvironments for the mental well being of people suffering from anxiety disorders, depression and isolation"


05 Timeline


Dec '18

Academic Research

Feb '19

Ideation & Interviews

Mar '19

Prototyping & User Research

May '19

Final Iteration & Thesis Defense


06 Design Goals


  • Augmented Reality microenvironments.

  • Interacting with an immersive space.

  • Plants leave special messages for self-care.

  • One can personalize their microenvironment over time.


07 Prototypes

To test various hypotheses of my project, I created 3 different experiments to test with users:

  • Experiment A, to test the aesthetics and reaction of simulated plants in AR and a simulated plant environment.

  • Experiment B, to test nurturing and taking care of simulated plants.

  • Experiment C, to test playfulness and personalization with physical cards that have image trackers for simulated plants.


EXPERIMENT A

I created an environment in augmented reality with virtual plants. This experiment was done to test the reaction of people to virtual plants. It was also a test to see if plants can have a calming effect on people. The participants can walk around the plants, move and have a closer look at the plants. This experience is meant to simulate real plants placed around you. Most results confirmed my hypothesis of plants having a calming effect. 70% users were happy with virtual plants and wouldn’t mind having them around in their spaces.



Screenshots of Experiment A Prototype


EXPERIMENT B

I then conducted an experiment where I simulated the nurture and the act of growing the plant. In contrast to Experiment A, this experiment was a surreal and fantastical compared to the more realistic experience in Experiment A. Experiment B was done to test the effect and experience of growing a virtual plant. Most users responded positively to the experience, noting that they enjoyed it even though it wasn’t the best experience to convey the notion of growing plants. They also wanted to grow more plants and some wanted to see various stages of the plant growth.



EXPERIMENT C

The third experiment I did was to create an AR Card based experience where users can place cards in their personal spaces and environments and customize. This experiment was more playful and interactive and I tested how people felt about using something tangible and physical like the cards and the freedom to place plants where they wanted to. The users liked the marriage of physicality to the simulated experience, but disliked having to use a smaller screen not being able to view it through augmented reality glasses or similar devices.



Cards representing different plants for AR Card based experience



Demo and User Testing of Experiment C


08 Vision

To showcase the vision I have of my project, I created these concept images that illustrate a future where we would be interacting with simulated plants in our personal spaces. These concept illustrations depict how we might have an evolved relationship with plants in the near future, once spatial computing becomes ubiquitous.

These concept images are speculative and serve as a medium to spark a public discussion about our future with simulated plants, and starting a conversation about the shifting relationship of humans and plants from analog to digital.




Concept Images created about future uses.
(L) A student in a cramped apartment using Vivarium (R) An astronaut using Vivarium to tend to her virtual plants.





Craft: Accessible VR Art Tool


March '18 - November '18


Microsoft Inclusive Design Challenge


R- Lab Fellowship Recipient


XR Bootcamp Grant Winner




01 Project Description

We started this project as an Inclusive Design Challenge given by Microsoft, our client for the project. The challenge was to design for inclusivity in a "deskless workspace". Aligning with Microsoft's mission statement: To empower every person on the planet to achieve more, the goal was to challenge and redefine the conventions of what it may mean to be "at work." After studying the Microsoft Inclusive Design toolkit and exploring multiple options, my team decided to work on making Virtual Reality more inclusive by making an accessible art tool and introduce this new platform of computing to more people which could be there future workplaces.



02 Problem

"VR is inaccessible to people with limb disabilities due to the use of hand controllers."

300 million people of the world's population has some sort of limb disability and due to the use of hand controllers, most VR applications are not accessible to people with these disabilities. People who have cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, paralysis and someone who is missing an arm is completely excluded from utilizing the full potential of VR.



PROBLEM STATEMENT


"How might we enable people with limited limb mobility to create art in Virtual Reality?"


Current State of VR Art Tools: A person using Tilt Brush needs to move all limbs.


03 Approach



04 Our Solution

Based on our research and interviews, we decided to create a solution that involved multi modal interaction. We decided to test the use of voice, eye gestures and movements to navigate and create in our art tool.



Art Interface

An intuitive interface to draw, record and share your work.


Eye Tracking

Tracking the eyes for position and gaze point, for drawing and selection.

Voice

Speech input coupled with an AI Assistant that uses Natural Language Processing.



05 Research

ACADEMIC RESEARCH

We looked into academic research done in this space to make informed decisions while creating our solution. Some of the articles we looked into were:

Evaluation of Multimodal Interaction techniques for 3D layout constraint solver in a desktop‐based Virtual Environment (Source)EEG -Based Eye-Tracking for Interaction Design in Head-Mounted Devices (Source)Tilt Brush Painting: Chronotropic adventures in a Physical-Virtual threshold (Source)


ART TOOLS IN VR

We decided to analyze the current creative tools in Virtual Reality to get a sense of how people create art in VR. We also studied their interfaces to figure what are the current features, functionalities and limitations. We tried the tools mentioned below.



(From L to R) Tilt Brush, Quill, Blocks, & Medium


Using and analyzing the current creative tools in Virtual Reality


INTERVIEWS

We spoke with Professor Todd Bryant, a VR developer and educator, to understand the current scenario in Virtual Reality and discuss our potential solutions. We also spoke with Serap Yigit, a User Experience Researcher at Google, formerly at Microsoft Hololens, to learn about user research techniques and usability test methods. Accessibility expert Claire Kearney-Volpe guided us to focus on multi-modal interactions and even put us in touch with potential users at ADAPT Community Network, a pioneer in programs and services for people with disabilities. The user interviews at ADAPT gave us insights of how our target users would interact and experience VR. All these opinions were extremely important and helped us validate our design decisions. We also had discussions with the Tobii team, the industry leader in eye tr