Nature Room

Made by lsimon

To provide an immersive nature experience for students hoping to escape the stress of studying.

Created: May 9th, 2016



Nature Room is a unique space for students to escape stress without having to leave the library. It's meant to provide students an opportunity to take a break in nature, without having to leave the library. If they want to, they can also study within the room. As the user opens and shuts the entrance door, the scene changes. The Nature Room completely encloses the user by mapping video to all four sides of the room. An overhead fan mimics wind and an overhead light mimics the sun. Both of these change to match each scene. 

We wanted to make relaxation as accessible as possible, and decided on nature as the medium to do so. CMU students are consistently pressed for time and may not have time to escape campus and take a break. To address this, we designed an immersive nature experience that could be installed directly into a room at the library. Creating a nearby, immersive experience increases the chances that students will relax within nature, albeit a virtual nature. 


User Flow Diagram



During the Spring semester, there were two stress-related suicides. Stress is a very real problem at CMU, and one that should be addressed. The stressful culture that CMU cultivates makes it hard for students to explore spaces outside of Carnegie Mellon’s campus. Students are often in the library all day and all night. This confinement of space only adds to the stress CMU students face. Nature Room exists to help break this confinement and give students the opportunity to explore nature and relax, without having to spend valuable time leaving campus. Students could be working on a project with a tight deadline and not have the 20 minutes to get out and enjoy nature. Thus, we bring the nature to them. It's our hope that the time they spend relaxing in this room will alleviate their stress. 

Technical specifications


  • Arduino
  • Breadboard
  • Wires
  • IR break beam sensor
  • 2 Short Throw projectors
  • 7 Back projection panels
  • Door
  • Speakers
  • Fan
  • Lights


  • Processing
  • Arduino
  • Syphon
  • Millumin
  • DMX dimmer box



Data Flow Diagram


Iteration information

Original concept

The Nature Room was inspired from an ambient display concept. The original concept involved using different components to persuade people to leave the library. It would display sunlight, wind, and rain levels and also include ambient noises. The goal was to inform students in such a way that they'd be inspired to leave the library and enjoy the described weather. We decided that students might not have time to leave the library, or they might not be persuaded enough by an ambient display to leave. Thus, we decided to bring the nature to the student instead of making the student go to nature.

Elements from the original concept
Screen shot 2016 05 09 at 5.40.40 pm.thumb


We spent some time brainstorming ways to immerse the user in video. Ultimately, we decided on projecting on clear shower curtains. We'd likely hang the shower curtains from the ceiling and project onto the back of them. Later, we discovered that the Media Lab (a lab space in the basement of Hunt Library) already had pre-made rear projection panels. This saved us a lot of time, because we could use these panels to directly construct our room.


Video and audio

We initially planned on incorporating 360 video into this project so that it would be truly immersive. We rented a Ricoh Theta S, shot 360 video out in nature, and flattened the video. Sadly, the video quality turned out poorly. We then scoured YouTube for the best professionally shot nature scenes we could find and used those instead.

We had planned on mixing our own audio for this project using soundboards. However, this would involve controlling the audio and video separately and would add an extra layerl of complication. Instead of doing this, we relied on the audio from the pre-recorded scenes we found on YouTube. With the eight speakers we used, this audio was more than enough for an immersive experience.

Editing the Ricoh Theta S video
Editing video.thumb

Ultimately, all elements came together to form a prototype version of the Nature Room. This was a prototype that was limited by time, location and other constraints. Looking forward, we'd hope to install a permanent version of Nature Room in one of the classrooms or study rooms within Hunt.  

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Focused on

To provide an immersive nature experience for students hoping to escape the stress of studying.