Microhabitat

A microhabitat is a virtual home tour that can be seen through a microscope. It welcomes audiences to a tiny room of a person living in NYC.

Link to web experience
PROJECT Year

2021

CATEGORY

Social Change
Media Art

EXHIBITION

ITP Spring Show

Responsibilities

Programming
Fabrication


Tools

Arduino Nano
P5.JS –  WebRTC


Design Background

The work brings the housing problem the 20s and 30s are facing. Finding a habitat has become more difficult. The more you get close to the central part, such as NYC or Seoul, the more expensive rents get making it tougher to find a place, and the smaller the room becomes. However, no matter how small the room may be, there lives a person with their own unique story and a big dream.

Inspiration

The work is inspired by 1) the Korean movie “So-gong-nyeo(小公女, Microhabitat)” and 2) the fancy open room tour YouTube videos.
1) The film deals with a woman who is willing to give up her basic necessities of life, home, in order to protect what she treasures the most. The main character, Miso, represents a generation who cannot afford to invest in housing unlike the generation before. 

2) The open room tour videos often share information on some objects in their house, such as shops where they purchased certain objects or their prices.

Design Concept

A microhabitat is a virtual open-door to a tiny habitat that can be seen only through a microscope. It welcomes audiences to a tiny room of a person living in NYC. The tour is not as big and fancy as you see in many of YouTube’s’ open doors. Comparing the size of the room to that of other open door videos, it may feel like looking into microscope slides where details are only visible via a microscope.

The audience peeks into the small room of a person through a microscope that has two controllers. Using the knob on the right side, a stage controller, the audience can look around the room as it rotates the camera situated at the center of the microhabitat. Using the knob on the left side, coarse adjustment, the user can look into the details on specific objects located in the room. Each object contains a personal story of the person living there as if you see the product details of objects that YouTube has in one’s open-door video.

The microhabitat contains 6 objects with the person’s own stories.

System Flow

Microhabitat used WebRTC to communicate between two computers in distance.

Virtual Microhabitat

Being physically remote,  the web version will allow the audience to get hints on what they will see using the real microscope.
The experience uses PoseNet to track the distance of the eyes to the screen. The detailed information is shown when the user gets close to the screen.

Link to web experience
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