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Simulating "walk along the beach" experience to improve emotional well-being

Image credit: https://aroundsarasota.com/var/resizes/Lido-Beach/2012-01-16_walking_lido_beach.jpg?m=1407952364

Povilas S
Povilas S Jul 27, 2021
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I've recently been to the seaside and noticed that walking along the beach clears my head and gives me energy. It does that even better than coffee. I always liked that experience, like most people, but I never specifically paid attention to what it does exactly in terms of your mental/emotional state. I then started thinking about what exactly could cause this effect in terms of natural factors present at the seashore.

The sound of crashing waves is perhaps the most important factor in this, I've noticed that when the sea is exceptionally calm with no or almost no waves (this is rare, but it happens sometimes) the energizing effect is not as good if present at all, it's the most vivid when the sea is stormy. The fresh, humid sea air might also contribute significantly. Iodine present in the sea air might add to this since it's important for healthy thyroid functioning and hormone production. Also, the smell of the sea contributes to the experience. I've talked in detail about the compounds responsible for the smell of the sea and how it is formed in a creative contribution here. Strong wind blowing in the open space is likely an important factor as well. Then there's the physical activity of walking itself and also the fact that you mostly walk barefoot there.

Some or all of these main factors can be simulated in an artificial environment for the benefit of improving person's mental/emotional state. I know that the actual experience is way better and one might argue that it's better to buy a ticket to the seaside rather than use a simulator, but for people who live far from the sea and especially in winter, this could be useful, especially if it would significantly improve their mood. You could regularly spend time at the simulator each day instead of a coffee break.

The recording of the sound of crashing sea waves can be played through large speakers, the wind can also be simulated with large fans, the humidity of a blown air can be adjusted to resemble sea air, and vaporizing a few natural compounds would produce a similar olfactory input. I think that the visual input is not that important in this and perhaps it's even better to avoid it (I might be wrong though).

It would be possible to use a VR headset to simulate the visuals, but the way I envision it, the sound and wind would simply be blowing from a dark, empty space (like a hole instead of a wall along which you walk or stand), the person wouldn't see the speakers or any gear producing the effect, only hear the sound and feel the wind, sense the smell, etc. I think this would make the experience seem more natural and realistic (almost like walking along the beach at night or in low light conditions). Because however realistic visuals can be produced, they would still feel artificial. There could be some dim lightning on the other side of the hallway, it could simulate the light levels present at sunset or sunrise, slowly change in colour, etc.

The walking part is a bit difficult because you either have to walk back and forth or use a treadmill. The latter seems like a very bad idea to me. The ground can easily be covered in a layer of natural sand. But walking is perhaps not that important, simply standing in front of blowing wind and the sound of crashing waves could do the job. You could also do some light exercising on the sand. There's also an option to build a big round hallway and just walk around it, if the diameter of the circle was big enough, you'd walk in only a slight curve.

This could perhaps start as an art project in an indoor art center and if proven effective/attractive could be transferred to the business/social domain. The system could be coupled with indoor tanning to provide the "full beach" experience in winter. Vitamin D produced by exposing the skin to UV light also contributes to the mood boost. A compact version of the simulator could potentially be installed in private houses.
Creative contributions

A multi-purpose environment built as part of an underground parking garage

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Jul 27, 2021
I like this idea and can easily see it commercialized. Especially in western and northern Europe, USA, Russia, Canada, and any other place that sees harsh, long winters.

The experience would be like going to the movies, except you would take your partner, friends, kids, to walk with you on the beach around a Maldivian island, through a tropical forest, through the desert, on the Moon, on Mars, etc. Any place with magnificent scenery that is worth paying a little money.

A large, round hallway might be a good option but those are rare to come by and expensive to build from scratch. Alternatively, a company could partner with a parking garage or buy out all the parking slots that are positioned next to the outermost walls and convert them. Ideally, it would be a garage that is usually half-empty, so the owner can't make more money by leasing out parking spaces.

Video is the most crucial element in my opinion. All the walls and floor should be covered by 360 degree video coming from many projectors. The video would seamlessly be stitched together so that you can't notice any transitions. If you can't get around the transitions you could use clever tactics to mask them. Maybe an artifical tree here and there.

There could be a real beach vendor, selling stuff that is not usually found in the winter. For example, fresh coconuts to drink.

Whoever does this should really go out of the way to emulate a real life experience as much as possible. In 5-6 months long gloomy, cold weather where else can you go for a walk?

If the environment was multi purpose, people could pick what they want to see, put in the money and have the entire tunnel to themselves for a fixed amount of time. One potential problem, how do you politely make sure they go out on time without making them feel rushed?

If the environment was single-purpose (beach only), then you don't have to force people out. Just make it large enough so that many people can walk at the same time. During special hours they can book an entire beach to themselves (and pay more). During other times they pay a little but there would be others on the beach as well. If the environment was beach-only, you could have real sand on the ground but the water would be simulated. With some extra work, even some water could be real. It would just be a meter to the wall. The rest would be projection.

This scene is pretty much it:)

Just got an idea for tomorrow stemming from yours:)
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
The scene you gave a link to shows exactly why simulating the visuals might be a bad idea xD But I agree, visual input is very important, especially if you want to provide a possibility for multiple different experiences. I also found some research proving that scenery of water bodies works well at improving people's emotions even if it's artificial. However, I'd still like to have a possibility to try a no-visuals option as well, because I believe that the visual part would strongly contribute to the feeling that the experience is artificial since the difference between real and artificial visuals is still very clear even though the graphics are already very advanced. Talking about the ocean, in particular, I think that if you'd only hear the sound of waves and feel the wind blowing from a dark space it would be easier to fool yourself that it's coming from a real ocean which you don't see (your senses can't test it).

Parking lots are not that big, so you'd still have to walk back and forth quite a lot or you'd hit the wall/visual installation. But you used the word "tunnel" and this got me thinking that maybe abandoned tunnels and other long, abandoned passages could be used for this. I think you can find abandoned metro lines in some big cities. Long narrow passages would fit the best for simulating walk along the beach experience, for other environments it would be the best if users were able to walk in all directions (like in a parking lot), but then it would be more complicated to install realistic visuals.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
Povilas S I imagined huge parking garages https://youtu.be/o0QY_oSi0sg, such that are never full to capacity where the owner would welcome additional business opportunities. You could walk 100+ meters before you had to turn the corner. There could be some rocks on the corner so that you would naturally turn towards the other side of the island (you are walking on an island).

Wait till you see the next 2 ideas that were inspired by yours:) They solve everything you mention.

p.s. this one is huge https://youtu.be/3DJ4VjIRM24
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
Darko Savic Yes, the underground mines/tunnels, like the last one you linked seem to be the best fit:)
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Fragmental or 3D screens

jnikola Jul 28, 2021
Hi @Povilas S! I love the idea and I have an idea of how we can make the visual part more realistic. The main thing that lacked your idea was the visual representation of the beach, realistic enough to offer a full beach experience. I'm talking about the sea, waves, seagulls, clouds, the sky, and the magnificent horizon! We definitely don't want the Truman scenario! :D

Well, I propose two novel, yet-to-be-invented things:
  • The fragmental screen
Yes, it would be made out of millions of fragments, detachable pixels that can work separately from the core structure of the screen. Every pixel would be powered wirelessly and have a predetermined range or the maximum distance from the power source where it can work.
I imagine every pixel to be like a small hexagonal crystal that has programmable screens on every flat surface. It would be like a tiny TV with multiple all-round single-pixel screens that can be programmed to show different colors. Millions of these would make a giant dynamic screen, that would easily mimic the waves hitting the sand, the cloudy sky or the sunset.

The pixels would move and reassemble with the help of electromagnetic field. Every pixels would have its "code" and its position in the space would be determined every milisecond with high precision.

I imagine this screen to be the size of an average room/hall. Every pixel in that room is powered from the fixed floors and walls, which are actually screen edges. The particles would be made out of reinforced robust transparent material. You would be able to enter the dynamic fragmental screen (room), walk on it, chill and enjoy any scenario you love. You would also be able to throw the sand, let it slide between your fingers or play with water.

The upgrade could be the matte or glossy finish of the particles that would then mimic sand and water more realistic.
Here are some videos where I found an inspiration for this.
  • 3D screens
These screens would be inspired by the screen from this video, with some differences.
I would create 2 meters deep, multi-layered screen composed out of many thin screens. The resolution would then be expressed as width x hight x depth and we would talk about pixels per squared inch. The screens should be made out of perfectly clear transparent pixels in order to allow the deepest pixel to be seen at approximately 95% clarity.
The pixels would be programmed to turn on or off, allowing the pixels behind to play the video. That way, we would get a natural 3D picture that could easily display the beach waves. Although the technology is already very advanced and we have 3D screens, this advancement would allow people to increase the depth of the displayed video/picture.

Inspirational videos:

What do you think.? Would something like this fit your idea, @Povilas S?
If any idea feels cool enough, tell me and I'll create a separate idea session :)
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
The fragmental screen idea is very cool, but it also seems very complicated to achieve. I don't think we are going to see it any time soon, but hopefully, I'm wrong. The making of such technology would probably cost so much that the single ticket for the "show" might be more expensive than the holiday at the actual seaside xD However, it would probably still be attractive to people as a form of super-advanced virtual reality experience.

3D screens are more feasible to implement. The 3D wave in the video does look very cool, I must admit, but as I understand from the explanations in the video, such screens have to be seen from a specific angle in order for the effect to work. This would be a complication if wanting to implement them for the purpose of this idea. It reminded me of Samuel Bello's idea about compacting information into multiangular images :

Also, as I understand from the links you gave about multilayered screens, they are not seeing mass production yet (or am I wrong?), the Samsung presentation in the video was in 2009, it seems they were intended for mass-production, but I didn't see them implemented yet. Other videos about those screens seemed to show test versions of sort.
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jnikola3 years ago
Povilas S Yes, fragmental screens are very futuristic, but the possibilities are endless. Imagine people creating real "virtual" worlds out of tiny screens, film sets that can change their shapes and colors in a minute. The destruction scenes could be done much easier because of the liquidity of the screens!
I imagine one fragment to look like this (https://idisplayled.en.made-in-china.com/product/GFsQiOPCCEka/China-Customized-Indoor-Irregular-Flexible-Ball-Shaped-LED-Display-Screen.html), but much much smaller (micro-sized)!

The 3D screen has the problem that you pointed out, but in my version, they would be multilayered and transparent, so this could be possibly avoided. The Samsung prototype didn't succeed, at least not in the commercially available option.
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
Juran Are they a completely novel idea (fragmental screens) or has there been some attempt/projects to create something similar? Maybe you've stumbled upon some examples heading in that direction?

I think a possible drawback of creating a highly transparent multilayered screen made of pixels is that there still has to be some border between pixels (the conjunction point). This creates a tiny "shadow". It's not a problem for one-layer screens, but if there were many layers, achieving a 95% clearness of the image in the last layer might be difficult.
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Purpose-built Simulated Augmented Biospheric Experiential Environments: "Earth-and-Space Tourism" For All

D. Eagle Aug 07, 2021
This proposal is not intended to focus on the original challenge, but an alternative solution inspired by the fusion of the original challenge and other ideas.

It's a low-cost virtual tourist attraction, otherwise described as purpose-built simulated augmented biosperic experiential environments, aimed at "earth-and-space tourism" for all.

Imagine that the head image is a real scenery of the proposed biospheric dome, with real people (tourists), sand, clear swimmable "sea/ocean"; simulated "sea/ocean waves/sound" and "skyscape". The sand, water and environment are changeable, with the aid of an integrated management system hidden undeground.

The array of "skyscapes" could simply be sophisticated translucent or opaque fabric projections with lighting effects, which is relatively more cost-effective and practical (about this later).

Wearing a cool pair of multi-functional VR/AR glasses (feels natural, not headset) with integrated earphones, adds a deeper augmented beachside experience, with active marine life - seagulls, jellyfish, crabs (aaahh!!); boats on the "horizon" (nice!), aircrafts in the sky, etc. The glasses also have binocular and night-vision functions.

Similarly, real-swimming with the glasses gives an augmented experience of a vibrant underwater aquatic life (wooow!). The depth of your overall experience depends on your pre-set personal preferences, from a broad gallery of sceneries, locations and other features.

In addition to personal VR/AR scenery, the physical environment itself provides realistic simulation of climates, seasons, day/nightimes, "natural" light shows, like aurora and other events, synchronised to real timezones. Experiential events are programmed accordingly and communicated by the external envelop as colour-coded display (more about external envelop later).

Other features

"Beach" outskirts

Located at the "beach" outskirts, are entrances to other simulated augmented environments, including earth "subterranean cave systems", tropical islands, "rainforests", etc; "space" and "extra-terrestrial" worlds (you may fancy being an "astronaut" on the ISS for the day/night or having your honeymoon on the "moon", your imagination's the limit). This topic is also touched on here.

External appearance and features

The external appearance of the biosperic structure is equally impressive. Its large scale is necessary for optimum "near/natural" experience. The architectural form is domelike, rather than full sphere, for better visual appeal.

The external envelop or skin could be made of structural fabric (e.g. the London millennium dome, UK) with protective coating material, containing solar/bioelectricity and biolumiscence and self-cleaning properties.

Alternatively, it could be of glass with internal streteched-fabric lining to provide seamless surface to the "skyscape" projections/simulations. In any event, the external envelop is also a power-generator, display medium and self-cleaning.


The virtual tourist attraction could be located near the sea or ocean, for easy access to a large body of water.

Purpose-built v retrofit

The purpose-built simulated environments provide the advantages of less site and experiential constraints, with more seamless and natural experiences. The environments eliminate serious issues associated with the constraints of a retrofitted or limited environment, where there are conflicts between physical and virtual movements.

This causes real risks of adverse cognitive neurological effects (brain confusion), triggering underlying conditions, such as motion sickness, epilepsy, etc.

Income streams

The main income of the tourist attraction is generated from low-cost ticket sales and premium subtle/natural or subliminal brand placements, via the VR/AR spectacles and other media.

An example of brand placement via the VR/AR specs is when you identify an "airline cruising by in the sky" (through the binocular function of the specs). Each time you do so, it creates an impression on you, as the viewer, which is then recorded by your specs and translated into cost per mille (1000 impressions/views) or CPM to the airliner.

Bear in mind that airline operators see the attraction as a serious threat and pay premium for subliminal brand placement, in order to retain sustainable customer volume.

Back to reality

[Finger snap/click!] Welcome back to reality, hoping that your imaginative experience inspires wonderful balancing possibilities. Real space tourism may be for the very selected few, but it could be balanced by realistic earth-based virtual earth-and-space tourism experience for all.
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Ideas on how to further perfect the simulator and make the visuals more realistic

Povilas S
Povilas S Aug 04, 2021
I'm at the seaside again, so got some new insights while walking along the beach. Will summarise it into the main bullet points below. I like Darko's idea of adding many different landscapes in the same simulator but thinking about how to make the experience more realistic I got to the conclusion that sticking to particular restricted conditions will do exactly that.

While having the possibility to experience different landscapes, time of the day, weather conditions makes the experience more interesting and exciting, this would come at the cost of feeling more like you're in a simulator rather than an actual place. To make the experience as realistic as possible a separate simulator would have to be adapted to a particular landscape, weather, light conditions, etc. You'll understand why by reading further. I'll stick to the walk along the beach experience in particular.

Low light conditions. This would be immensely useful for making the visuals seem realistic. At dim light the eyes can't distinguish well the real from fictional, that's why we often mistake objects for what they are not in the evening/at night. Colours visible at full light give an increased sense of depth to the vision, let us calculate distances much more accurately, etc. At dimmed light, it would be much harder to distinguish a flickering of the screen placed at a considerable distance from you from the natural twilight reflected by crashing ocean waves.

An observatory type dome of stars. The star constellation demonstrations projected on an observatory cupola look very much like in a real night sky and gives a quite astonishing experience. In fact, the view of a dark space and tiny shining dots in it is very simple to produce artificially and the one which gives a realistic impression, even having a phosphorescent star ceiling and lying on your bed in the darkness looking at it could make you feel like you are under the open sky. But the dome shape of the ceiling would give the view a required element of depth and feeling of spaciousness.

The enclosed space in which the simulation would take place should have either a huge dome-shaped ceiling (in which case the building would have to be round) or a long, arch-shaped one similar to those in plain or train hangars. It would be worth investing in designing a huge new building specifically for this purpose. If the building was round the users would have to walk either along the outer wall or in a spiral-like labyrinth. The round building would have to be huge to make you walk in only a slight curve. If the building was simply long people could walk straight and there would be no curvature to follow.

A screen of two planes joined at an angle. I made a very simple diagram to make it easier to imagine (excuse my painting skills).

The bottom plane should be raised at a slight angle, at the edge of it would be real water, the inclination would keep the water at one side and prevent it from covering the screen. The screen would start somewhere considerably further from the shore, maybe 20 meters or so, the optimum distance would be tested. The screen (at least the part close to the water) would be covered in a waterproof transparent shield. The image on the screen at a certain point would merge with the water and make it difficult to see that the water finally ends and the screen begins. The dome-shaped ceiling would also end with a similar inclined plane which would join corners with the ground plane. The whole ceiling would be a screen or an image projected by the LCD projector. A clear stary sky would be displayed on it, possibly some light clouds (but the simpler and darker the image the harder it is to tell that it is artificial), the side over the sea would glow in light shades of warm twilight colours.

Additional things and problems to solve

The waves should somehow be produced in real water. Maybe it would be possible to make at least a similar effect by using a jacuzzi-like system that would bubble the water and produce spatter, but the best would be to make actual waves somehow.

The best way to discourage the people from going too deep into the water and hitting the screen (also feeling that the bottom plane is rising and the water level is dropping) I was able to come up with is to simply make the wind increasingly stronger as you go deeper in, so that at a certain point the person wouldn't be able to go further or even stand on their feet. This would be a passive-aggressive way to discourage them and also add a little adrenaline to the experience.

Another challenge is hiding the powerful fans in front of the screen somehow (they can't be placed behind the planes and the wind has to blow from the sea side). They would have to merge with the sea/sky view convincingly enough not to be noticed. Low light conditions would make this task easier. The surface of the fans should be camouflaged or even covered in separate screens displaying the same background image.

Real sand on the ground and at the bottom of the water is a must. The building would have to be huge. The bigger the better.

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General comments

Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
Once you get past the ads this video shows a room with a 360-degree video projection on every wall https://www.24ur.com/video/62624908

this is pretty much how I imagine the above idea
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
Darko Savic I doesn't show the video, says "the page is being updated"
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