VR Space Explorer


For a third-year product design class, we were given a task to design a VR headset for a target audience of our choice. My team, Donny Wu, Andrea Ma and I decided to market this product to star-gazing hobbyists. Considering that we decided to create a function driven product, we used ABS, PVC and varnished birch plywood in order to repel water since star-gazing takes place outside. We also made sure 95% of the population will be able to use our VR headset comfortably through adjustable straps. Our major constraint was to use our two assigned materials evenly, wood and plastic; nevertheless, cost was another major constraint since we did not want to purchase expensive raw materials.

Our Exploration as a Team (Three People)

  1. User centered design based on a persona
  2. Ideation through lots of sketches
  3. Many rough prototypes
  4. 1 final model
  5. 3D printing and Laser Cutting
  6. Use half plastic and half wood

My Additional Roles

  1. Team time management and arranging for facilities to laser cut or 3D print
  2. Preparing laser cutting vector files inside Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw
  3. Designing the spread
Ideation for VR Space Explorer
Figure 1: The first set of scale prototypes transforms our ideation into a visual form which can be used to convey our thoughts other team members and instructors.

Our Process

First Step

The first step of our process was identifying our target audience, middle-aged men and created a persona for them. The reason we picked that group of people was because after doing research, they are the primary group who enjoy star-gazing in their backyards.

Next, we completed many sketches and picked the best ones to quickly prototype. During this process we prioritized speed rather than accuracy, primarily to explore form. The size of these prototypes was 25% of the actual size in order to reduce the usage of raw materials and increase efficiency. After prototyping a few models, we took good ideas from our collection of prototypes and combined them into rough models.

First Prototype for VR Space Explorer
Figure 2: A rough model with a scale of 50% is best for form exploration. Small and low-fidelity models are faster and cheaper to make.

Second Step

We targeted functionality for our new scale models, such as where hinges would be placed. We also planned out materials for each part and how the individual components would join together. In addition, we created openings for our phone and planned how straps can connect the VR headset to the human head. These set of rough models were 50% of the actual size.

Second Prototype for VR Space Explorer
Figure 3: A one to one prototype of the best scale model allows testing on different users and making sure the dimensions fit.

Third Step

Our final prototype used Henry Dreyfauss’ (click there for more information on Dreyfauss) measurements on the 50th percentile for an average adult man to construct our model in order to make sure it fits as that was our priority, ergonomics. Once our final prototype was completed, we began our production phase.

Final Prototype for VR Space Explorer
Figure 4: The parts for the VR headset are successfully 3D printed and laser cut. All that is left is finishing with a coating of varnish and adding a strap.

Fourth Step

We created a 3D model in order to 3D-print the interior structure and laser cut wood on the exterior. My partner Donny was in charge of the 3D modelling in Solid Works and my role was preparing laser cut pieces using CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator. We had an option to completely finish the VR by hand; nonetheless, our hands cannot cut or make complex models accurately so leaving it to an automated tool would result in higher accuracy.

Final Model for VR Space Explorer
Figure 5: The strap is attached and the final layer of varnish is coated. The 3D printed ABS is covered with a layer of soft PVC.

Fifth Step

Once the parts were completed, we assembled them using Methyl Chlorate for plastic welding, wooden glue to connect our exterior wooden shell to the 3D printed ABS, and super glue to strengthen weaker joints. Considering our VR headset would be used outside to stargaze, we had to make it water resistant by coating the plywood with a layer of varnish. We coated the exposing ABS sections with a layer of soft PVC to maximize comfort.

VR Space Explorer Presentation Poster
Figure 6: The final presentation poster for VR Space Explorer.

Learning Outcome

After taking in charge and planning for many projects and learning from past mistakes, I can safely say that my time management skills are improving and this project followed the proposed plan fairly well since procrastination was not present. This was due to the fact that my entire team and I were interested in making a high quality, well designed and ergonomically friendly VR headset and we enjoyed using advanced tools such as laser cutters and 3D printers. By actually enjoying the project, the result is a huge leap forward compared to other projects.

Considering that I have never used a 3D printer before, I can safely say that they are amazing prototype tools with one major drawback which was its printing speed. Nevertheless, I realized the importance of learning how to use one and I will continue to improve my 3D modelling skills because I know I will need to 3D print again in the near future. Also, I am thankful for the opportunity to work with two amazing team members.

Download File

Final Poster PDF