Welcome to the new of Omnisense

This week I came across a website that offered one of the most immersive interactive experiences I have witnessed online this far. The Omnisense website markets an imaginary product called O+ and will guide you through the calibration process and initial test of the product. It makes use of your smartphone as a second screen and controller to guide you through a slightly gruesome scenario in the not to distant future.

I thought it might be a hoax site for a big budget movie but it turned out to be a final year student project. Intrigued I spoke to Florian Morel about Omnisense to find out more…

Hi Florian, would you mind telling us a little more about the Omnisense project?

Sure, Omnisense emerged from a general theme; The perception of our world and the enhancement of our senses.

We use our senses to gather informations from our world, but little by little we contribute to the birth of a new world. A digital world, containing information about everything: locations (like google maps), what you like (pinterest), who your friends are (facebook), where you work (linkedin), what you know (wikipedia), what you don’t know (wikileaks). It is becoming more and more a duplicate of our world. This digital environment grows more and more each day but we’re not equipped to interact with it.

However we use some devices such as smartphones which become kind of a body extension, allowing us to access this digital world.

What if you could access these data without the need for such a device ? What if we could get a new sense suited for this digital world? With this background in mind, how would all this personal data affect our life and our judgement?

In the end, it’s all about current problems (personal data on the web) and how to talk about a serious topic in a engaging and immersive way.

Some references that inspired us were: Google Glass, Trask and Weyland Industries, Black Mirror, The Wolf Among Us, transhumanism & body hacking (“L’Humanité augmentée” – Augmented humanity, by Eric Sadin, and “L’être et l’écran” – The being and the screen, by Stéphane Vial).

Who is behind the Omnisense project?

We are a team of 3 students: Louis Ansa (design, art direction), Florian Morel (design, developement) and Corentin Bac (design, developement). We study together at Gobelins, l’École de l’Image based in Paris, France. This school puts together developers and art directors to enable them to create creative and interactive projects.

How did you work together on this project and which challenges did you face?

Omnisense is our diploma project. We worked throughout the whole year (september to june) on it, step by step. We spent 6 months on the concept/design to make it a great and fun user experience. Then we produced the current prototype in 4 months.

The challenges included working with the same person for a whole year, but also working in fields we had no experience in (like sound design or level design). We gave a lot of thought to the user experience and even organised some user tests in a laboratory specialised in user experience. We had a lot of crazy ideas that we wanted to include, but had to discard a lot of them to be able to produce something good in such a short time period.

Another challenge was to communicate about our project via a fictional enterprise and make people believe the O+ product was real. A lot of people knew it was a stunt, but some people really bought it! That gave us a good laugh.

What do you hope to gain from the project?

This project aimed to make people aware of the different risks of putting their personal data on the web. We didn’t want to do some boring serious game so we came up with this. Our scenario included a look into the near future to make people understand that all these changes can happen very fast.

For us, it was a way to showcase our final year project, show what we are capable of and see how people would react. It was heartwarming to see all the amazing feedbacks we received from all over the world.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Florian! Definitely three students to keep an eye on.

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