The UX Development Story

The Problem

Location, Location, Location

Everyone has a place that inspires them, calms them, or that they simply enjoy. We use whiteboards and paper notebooks to explore and sketch ideas that arise from just being there, but most of the time, we are not at these locations. What if you can be?

The Solution


Wherever you are, you're there.

Focus VR transports you to calm and beautiful environments, be it at the beach, in the sky, or even in space. It gives you an environment in which to read your textbooks, and a whiteboard to sketch on. You choose how you want to customize your Ideal Learning Environment.

The UX Process



Focus VR app was developed over the course of 48hrs and was awarded 1st in Innovation at the 2016 UCSC Hackathon. 

The team consisted of undergraduate researchers Jeremy Saal, Joe Goldin, Alisia Martinez, Brent Hick, and I, from Dr. Nicolas Davidenko's High Level Perception Laboratory.


Research Based

Being a team of Cognitive researchers, we applied research principles on Attention, Memory, and State-Dependent Learning to design a system that transports you into an immersive, customizable, and distraction-free environment -- no matter where you physically are.

Memory is contextual, and environmental cues are important. Building on that principle, state-dependent memory "is the phenomenon through which memory retrieval is most efficient when an individual is in the same state of consciousness as they were when the memory was formed." (Girden, E., Culler, E., (1937) Journal of Comparative Psychology, 261–274). 


With FocusVR, you can take advantage of the cue-dependent nature of memory and study in your consistent, desired environment every time.



Customizable and Distraction-Free Environments

The user is able to switch between and customize multiple environments to find their ideal study space. This ensures that the user is able to create a space in which they not only feel comfortable but are able to focus. See it in action


Novel Input Method and UI

We've use the Leap Motion hand tracker in order to create an intuitive user experience which feels natural and responsive. 

User Interfaces in VR are uncharted waters. For that reason, we developed our own minimal interface that keeps buttons out of your way, helping you focus. See it in action →


Virtual Whiteboard

Using Leap Motion's 'Tool Tracking' we are able to track a simple #2 pencil in 3D space. We've created a virtual whiteboard in our study space that the user can draw on. Holding a physical pencil provides for a more immersive experience and creates a sense of familiarity for the user. See it in action →




Windows Download (Oculus SDK 0.8)



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