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Promoting Marine Conservation


Designer + Researcher


September 2023- October 2023


Unity 3D


Adobe After Effects

XR research

Unity 3D

3D modelling 


Project Description

The project aimed at creating an underwater VR game-like experience to promote empathy towards marine life and throw light on the destruction caused to the marine animals as a consequence of human activities. 

Problem Domain

In today’s world, we have so many large aquariums which are the major tourist attractions for people. While these aquariums aim to educate people about marine life, they often require marine animals to live their entire lives in captivity, which is unfair to these creatures.


Therefore, I aspire to utilize immersive technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR), to develop an underwater simulation for aquatic life, offering a compelling alternative to traditional aquariums.

“How might we utilize immersive VR technologies to foster empathy in individuals towards marine animals and advance their commitment to conservation efforts?”


Defining Constraints

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Cost of development to exactly replicate the underwater environment as well as all the species.

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Access to accurate data and research on marine life, their behaviors, habitats, and ecosystems for creating a realistic simulation.

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Access to measure the project's impact on fostering empathy and advancing conservation efforts.

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Technical limitations of VR hardware and software, including available resources, computing power, and VR headset accessibility.

Phase 2 - Competitive Analysis

As the next step, I went on to do a brief competitive analysis of the existing products in my problem space to understand the existing gaps in them which I can turn into potential opportunities.

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VR Ocean Aquarium 3D


Immersive VR marine life experience.


The user can not move around in the space to explore the animals.

Major species such as sharks, whales, etc. are not missing.

To explore the ocean and learn about aquatic species.

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Ocean Rift

VR aquatic safari along with prehistoric marine life. 


Users can tap on an animal and learn about them. 

Users can swim along with the animals.


No other interaction with the animals except for swimming and along with them and getting eaten by sharks and whales.


Deep Blue Dump

Mobile app to protect a baby turtle from plastic pollution by pushing away trash in its path.


Interactive game where the user can save the turtle by clearing the trash in its way.

Easy swiping gestures to clear the turtle’s path.


Only focused on turtles, does not cover other animals at all. 


Not immersive, since it is simple mobile app



VR experience to explore the wildlife + aquatic life on the planet in an immersive way.


Users can witness the actual land and marine animals found in different parts of the planet. 

Users can view the animals at their own pace.


Motivating users to conserve wildlife is only done through short films and documentaries; not powerful enough.

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Pets VR

VR experience to play with pets, take care of them, feed them, give them a bath, etc.


Has numerous possible interactions of the player with the animals, which makes the users play the game again. I can also build on the interactive aspect to retain more users. 

Gaps Identified

After conducting a comprehensive analysis of the existing competitors in the space, I made the following observations:

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Presently, the conservation aspect (even if it is incorporated) predominantly relies on the inclusion of separate videos and textual facts related to marine life conservation that do not seamlessly integrate into the immersive realm of VR, resulting in a limited capacity to evoke genuine empathy from users towards these creatures.

The users can only observe and learn facts about marine life, but they can not interact with them in order for them to get a sense of empathy towards these animals. Therefore, I intend to make the immersive experience more interactive for the users where they can volunteer to save marine life through design features.

Finally, my problem statement evolved as follows:


“How might we utilize immersive VR technologies to foster empathy in individuals towards marine animals and advance their commitment to conservation efforts?”


Physical Prototyping

Digital Prototyping 

Digital Prototyping 

SketchUp, Adobe After Effects



360 Paper Sketch



Physical Prototyping


I started with storyboarding the scenarios and the various VR interactions for the underwater experience. This helped me visualize the viewing angles, the scenes as well as the elements in the environment that I wanted to show in my 3D prototyping.

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Overall, the physical prototyping ranging from 2D to 3D helped me visualize the different interactions that would take place. 

However, it made sense to make use of the existing 3D digital technologies to prototype the interactions....

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Digital Prototyping

SketchUp + Adobe After Effects

I wanted to go a step further and explore other prototyping methods. Hence, I went on to explore SketchUp 3D as the first step. The final video shown below was made majorly with this tool while some of the interactions were accomplished via video editing in Adobe After Effects.

Key Interactions

Interaction | Hand Tap

User taps on “join”  when they are invited for a trash cleaning competition by a friend’s avatar in the VR space 



I learnt creating animations on Unity.

Interaction | Throwing Trash

User swings their arm and throws trash (represented by sphere in this prototype) into their assigned bin.


I learnt how to play multiple animations in a particular sequence by creating triggers.

Interaction | Hand Swipe

User does the swiping action to move the trivia fact on the side after reading the info on it.


I got to experiment with coordinating 2 simultaneous animation such as the moving fact screen and the hand swipe action.

Phase 4 - Next Steps

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Refining and adding to the 3D prototype. Making it more interactive

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Working on the VR development keeping in mind the constraints defined initially.

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Testing the interactions with the intended users to make further improvements.

Project Learnings



Learnt hacks on creating interactions by using a combination of tools like Sketchup and masking techniques on Adobe After Effects.  

Working with SketchUp, I realized that even though it is a good tool to create a 3D environment, it is very limited in terms of making different interactions. 

Learnt the basics of animations on Unity, along with making triggers to control animations. 

Experimented with Unity’s interface and video compiling to create interactive digital prototypes without using any code.


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Getting familiarized with different VR prototyping tools all together within a limited time frame.

Keep in mind the specificity of designing interactions in the VR space. For instance, using a curved screen for trivia facts rather than a flat screen since that increase readability or making the text in the environment align with the head movement of the user so that is it visible to them from different angles, etc.

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