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Case Study 3

Graduate student at University of British Columbia's iSchool & Circuit Stream Student

Design Guidelines for Social VR Meditations as Additional Feature to Combine with Solo-User VR Meditations

Project Length:

  • Research Project: 4 months

  • VR Mini-Game: 14 months

Courses taken:

  • Topics in Human-Computer Interaction: Designing Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences from UBC's Computer Science department

  • XR Development with Circuit Stream

My role: XR Researcher & Designer

Platform: VR Headset (i.e. Oculus Quest 2)

Tools used: Figjam, Unity

Utilized skills: 

  • Competitor Analysis, Marketing Research 

  • User Testing: semi-structured interviews (with VR headsets)

  • Observation, Open Coding, Thematic Analysis

  • Design Thinking for XR Design

  • XR Development Skills (including C# coding)

Presentation Venue:


Solo-user VR meditations offer many health benefits, but its lack of active interactions and social support makes forming meditation practices difficult for novice users. Therefore, social VR meditation such as EvolVR hosted previously on AltspaceVR – group meditation led by a “meditation leader” in VR – has emerged as a new kind of VR meditation aiming to facilitate users’ health with the added benefit of user interactions. 

Group meditations “encourage continuity of practice due to the experience of accountability and an established, regular practice schedule,” provide supervision from an instructor and strengthen feelings of social connectivity (Gunaratana, 1992; Lauricella, 2013; Hanley et al., 2021). With the rise of the Metaverse, a new kind of VR meditation such as EvolVR has emerged as social VR meditations to offer  meditators the chance to interact with each other in the fully-immersive virtual environments similar to physical group mindfulness spaces that facilitate social connectedness (Gunaratana, 1992; Hanley et al., 2021). 

Problem Space:

In 2022, solo-user VR meditation application Tripp acquired EvolVR to add social VR meditation application as an additional feature to its solo-user VR meditations. Therefore, there is strong motivation to investigate the strengths and weakenesses of social VR meditations as an additional feature to solo-user VR medtations to improve users' meditation experiences.

Three research questions are asked: (1) How are solo-user VR meditation experiences different from social VR meditation experiences? (2) Would users require social VR meditations as a meditation choice? (3) What are the design guidelines that users expect for social VR meditations to combine with solo-user VR meditations?

User Research Method:

This study uses the qualitative research method; five one-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted after participants experienced two 15 minute VR meditation sessions - a solo-user VR meditation (in AltspaceVR with guided meditation voiceover) and a social VR meditation (in EvolVR, which is also hosted in AltspaceVR) - on two separate days.


Novice VR users with an interest in VR meditations (N=5) were recruited using a snowball sampling method. Their median age is 27 years old.


Comparison of Meditation Types:

A competitive analysis was also conducted to understand the user needs of four different meditation types based on three categories - space design, avatar design, process design - from literature review (Figure below).

Significant Findings:

  1. All five participants responded that social VR meditations is currently a “nice to have,” and would use it again if improvements are made. 

  2. Five key areas of improvements for social VR meditations: 

​​(1) Avatar design should be like the real human body. Participants suggested that avatars should have complete bodies with legs and move according to the laws of physics and ergonomic principles to reduce their anxiety.

(2) Talking to strangers online can increase users’ social anxiety, so all 5 participants wanted to invite their friends to join in. Participants felt the familiarity with friends can help them to relax and not think about other people’s judgment. 

(3) The power relation between leaders and users should be balanced to increase users’ sense of participation. One participant explained: “...[the leader] is the most dominant figure in that space and that kind of defeats the point of meditation. I need to keep in mind what he says, and I have to be aware of his existence, so how am I supposed to feel nothingness when he is the most important figure in that space?” Adjusting the power relation can lead to higher participation.

(4) Expand users’ scope of control to increase users’ immersion. Expanding users’ scope of control such as control over environmental details increases users’ immersion.

(5) The decision to share out should be transferred to the user. Currently, leaders designate users to share their meditation experiences, which adds to users’ social anxiety.

Design Guidelines:

To combine with solo-user VR mediation as an additional feature, the design guidelines for social VR meditations are:

  • Meditation Leader: to reduce online social anxiety.

The contents of the meditation sessions need to be systematically divided; guides should be provided to users to assist their selection of different virtual spaces and meditations goals; regular social time should be given to users to socialize with others.

  • Avatars Design: to increase users’ immersion.

Avatars should be designed with complete bodies and move according to the laws of physics and ergonomic principles; avatars should be designed with additional functions (e.g., the ability to pick up objects or sit down); users should be able to control certain elements of the virtual space (e.g., the weather, color scheme or music).

  • Social Process Design: to eliminate online social anxiety.

Users should be able to selectively invite their friends to participate in meditation together; users should have the power to decide how and when to share their meditation experiences.

Research Project Video:

Comparison of meditation types.png
Social VR Meditation Game with Applied Design Guidelines
Design is in the works!!
- Coming Soon - 
截圖 2022-08-30 上午10.59.56.png
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