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Create a Wonderland with VR

This is an interview introducing KuMA (Kumamoto University Metaverse Architect), an official student club from the Faculty of Engineering. We spoke with the leader, Haruto MOTOSHIMA, a third-year student from the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering. Their club room for daily activities is located on the 4th floor of the Research Building for Science and Technology on the Kurokami South Campus.

Leader of KuMA, Haruto MOTOSHIMA

What kind of activities your club engages in?

We have been making delightful works using Virtual Reality (Virtual Reality) and AR(Augmented Reality.) VR googles enable us to immerse ourselves in an extended virtual world with a realistic experience. KuMa (Kumamoto university Metaverse Architect) was established in 2018 and officially recognized by the Faculty of Engineering in April 2024. We actively participate in IVRC (Interverse Virtual Reality Challenge), a national student competition where participants vie for prizes. Our club boasts around 40 members, predominantly from the Faculty of Engineering. We meet once every two weeks to discuss strategies, while also engaging in group activities where we enjoy creating works at our own pace.

What brought you to join this club?

When I was in high school, I was a member of a club that does programing with Unity (a cross-platform game engine). This experience sparked a strong interest in programing, leading me to further pursue this field further in university. Consequently, I made the decision to join this club.
Could you please share with us the works you’ve made so far?

One of our works involved creating VR fireworks where you can customize and launch your own fireworks displays. You can freely choose from a variety of colors and shapes, such as a red star, a blue heart, a yellow ball, and arrange them in any order you like. Once the button is pressed, you can watch your personalized fireworks in virtual reality.

Additionally, you can adjust the view point- moving up, down, left and right-to enjoy the fireworks from various angles. This feature allows users to feel like you are flying in the air while watching the fireworks. However, some users may have motion sickness issues, if the movement is too fast or stops too suddenly, so we adjusted the speed and ensured smoother movements, minimizing discomfort for users.

Experience the Immersive View of fireworks launched by you from multiple angles.

Is it possible to feel vibrations during the fireworks as well?

We placed a huge speaker, called transducer, on the chair. With the sound of fireworks popping up, synchronized vibrations were emitted, enhancing the experience to make users feel that they are truly watching the fireworks. This work was honored with the Kaketsuken Award (化血研賞) at the Kumamoto University event, Dream Science Exploration 2022 (夢科学探検2022).

Another work of ours, titled “Dreamy Panda Cuddles”, allowed you to experience hugging pandas using electric blankets and cushions. This work reached the final stage, known as LEAP STAGE, of IVRC.
It is also feasible to create drawings within a spatial environment?

Yes, this is achieved by programing using Unity. We can draw whatever we want in the air with VR camera goggles, utilizing a pallet to choose our preferred colors. The drawings are rendered sterically, and we can enjoy them from various angles. The view from the goggles is also displayed on a TV screen, enabling both the user and the audience to enjoy the experience together in real-time. It's incredibly easy for anyone to participate and create.

Draw three-dimensional images with fingers in space.

In March, we hosted these VR events at Tsutaya Kumamoto Sannenzaka, catering to a wide range of generations from children to adults. Everyone had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the VR world. Some participants even created remarkable masterpieces, leading to enthusiastic cheers and applause from the audience. This highlights one of the major attractions of VR - its accessibility and ability to be enjoyed by everyone.

At a VR event, a child was enjoying a VR experience
Could you please share with us your future plans?

Currently, we are trying to create a new project designed for multiple people engagement. Although we are still in the early stages and exploring various possibilities, our initial goal is to enable virtual experiences of playing table tennis or catching a ball.

Last year, I placed sensors on my hands, head, waist, feet and ankles to capture movement such as throwing a ball. Utilizing the data collected from these sensors, we developed a windup motion of pitcher in our game. This year, I would like to continue to pushing boundaries and innovating to create enjoyable new experience for people. Nowadays with the significant advancements in VR technology, there is now greater potential for immersive experiences and a broader range of possibilities to explore.

An innovative and ambitious team dedicated to exploring more possibilities in the future