Owen Harris is a game developer, professor and enthusiast of all things fun. He is the head lecturer of BA in Game Design at Dublin’s Institute of Technology and produces games with bitSmith Games. Currently living in Dublin, Ireland, he is fleshing out his flagship virtual-reality experience, Deep VR.
Deep VR came about during one of his most vulnerable years. During 2015, he was dealing with being a new professor giving lectures, building his first commercial game with bitSmith Games and his father becoming ailed. This brought on extreme bouts of depression and anxiety, which was crumbling his relationships and grasp to reality.
In a effort to combat these strong emotions, he began practicing yogic breathing. These deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques helped him enter a soothing state, to create “pause” at the end of the day. “When the Oculus Rift first came out, Owen began making a personal meditation aid to help him in his practice. He sought to create a digital Zen garden, a place he could escape to at the end of a tough day to unwind and relax.”
In order to translate the calming yogic breathing methods to the virtual reality experience, he had to create a device that could measure the expansion of your diaphragm. The device relinquish your arms, hands, legs and feet to interact with the digital world. Through your diaphragmatic yogic breathing, you are able to have a deep connection with your body, conscience and virtual world.
The virtual world itself is euphoric, letting the users leave the reality behind them to enter a Zen world where fantastical creatures and tranquil environments welcome the user. There is a outline of a circle in front of you, that allows you to see and control the speed of your breathing. Through your breathing, you are able to glide across the world.
What really solidify this projects for Owen Harris, was when Christos Reid @Failnaut tweeted to him “Just experienced Deep by @TheAllThing. VR ocean exploration powered by your breathing. Tried it, then we cried and hugged. Amazing.” Since then, he has been giving talks and promoting Deep in venues, such as LeftField Collection, Tedx Bratislava, Playful Arts Festival, Cinekid, State of Play Ireland’s Indie Games, GameCity, EGX Rezzed and so on.
The overall feedback on this unique meditative experience has been positive. People who have tried it have said, that after a few minutes of the experience, feelings of anxiety are repressed and they come out much calmer then when they went in. Deep VR is another example in how VR will benefit, not just gamers or movie watchers, but in the everyday experiences of modern life. Deep VR is currently accessible through Oculus. If you currently possess a Oculus Rift, go ahead and try out this experience to see if it brings you to a more relaxed mental state.