Scott Fisher & Joshua McVeigh-Schultz


Immersive Design Fiction: Leveraging VR/AR As Tools For Envisioning The Future of Industrial Design

In this presentation we present a case study of a VR design fiction that depicts speculative interfaces for creative collaboration. The goal of this research was to understand how VR will impact the future of industrial design and creative work. In partnership with the Steelcase Futures of Work group, we designed a series of VR experiments that propose new interfaces and workflows for creative collaboration situated within practices of ideation, sketching, modeling, annotation, and review. Using immersive design, we were able to go beyond the simple prototyping of interfaces to also model the interaction rituals and surrounding social worlds that might envelope these experiences. For instance, we prototyped speculative forms of social interaction by animating avatars as in-world non-player-characters (NPCs). And we used these NPCs to model unfamiliar modes of use. Our presentation deploys this case study to argue that richly immersive platforms (such as room-scale VR) are particularly well suited for prototyping the experiential contexts of speculative interfaces.

Techniques such as speculative design and design fiction offer important reminders that any story we tell about a new technology is also a story about the broader social practices that we imagine growing up around it. However, these sorts of approaches traditionally leave much of the actual experience of a speculative technology up to the imagination of a user or viewer. This gap between what can be imagined and what can be experienced is a significant one, but it is also one that we believe is surmountable. Namely, with richly immersive technologies, such as room-scale VR, designers can harness a powerful toolkit to situate speculative interfaces within a broader experiential world.


Scott Fisher is an interaction designer known for his work on technologies of presence and his pioneering research in the field of Virtual Reality at NASA. He is a Professor and founding Chair of the Interactive Media Division and Associate Dean of Research at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he also directs the Mobile and Environmental Media Lab. His current work leverages VR and AR as vehicles for design fiction prototyping.

His work has been recognized internationally through numerous invited presentations, professional publications and in the popular media. In addition, he has been an Artist in Residence at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies and his stereoscopic imagery and artwork has been exhibited in the US, Japan and Europe.

Joshua McVeigh-Schultz is an interactive designer and media artist who recently earned a PhD in the Media Arts and Practice from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. His research focuses on the intersection between speculative design and ritual, and his current work leverages VR to envision the future of industrial design (through a partnership with Steelcase’s Futures of Work group).

He was awarded an Intel PhD Fellowship for his dissertation on speculative rituals of liveness. He has conducted research in USC’s Mobile & Environmental Media Lab, Intel Labs’ Interaction Experience Research Group and Microsoft Research’s Social Media Collective. He also earned an MFA from UC Santa Cruz in Digital Arts & New Media and an MA in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley.