Save the Space Elevator

An Escape Room Scenario Involving Passive Haptics in Mixed Reality

This project presents our solution to the 2019 3DUI Contest challenge, which focuses on passive haptics. We aimed to provide a compelling user experience in virtual reality while overcoming the limitations of physical space and current tracking devices. To meet these goals, we designed a time travel scenario that incorporates several novel features. A time machine increases efficiency in the use of physical space. A passive haptic camera prop provides a help system that is integrated into the storyline. Finally, the concept of a “temporal stabilizer” provides a plausible way to reuse a single tracking device to track multiple passive haptic props.

Our overarching narrative is a future scenario involving time travel and a critical mission that must be carried out by the user. In the year 2258, an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) device destroys a database needed for the construction of a space elevator, which is critical to humanity’s plans of establishing a colony on the moon. The user is cast as an agent from the secret Federal Bureau of Time Corrections. Their objective is to time travel between the present time and the past and solves different puzzles in the two time periods that will lead to the discovery of a memory cube, which can be inserted into the central computer in the past to disable the EMP before it goes off. The agent needs to complete the mission before their body’s temporal radiation limit is met. If they succeed, the space elevator plans will be saved.

This story gives context and urgency to the solving of the individual puzzles, establishes a reason for the user to find and use all the passive haptic interactions, motivates the time limit, and allows us to reuse the same physical space for two different virtual spaces.

Our design draws from real-world interactions, science fiction, and existing 3D UI techniques. It combines them in a coherent narrative that is novel, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to learn. It effectively uses both limited physical space and technological resources.


Shakiba Davari; Yuan Li; Lee Lisle; Feiyu Lu; Lei Zhang; Leslie Blustein; Xueting Feng; Brianna Gabaldon; Marc Kwiatkowski; Doug A Bowman

Save the Space Elevator: An Escape Room Scenario Involving Passive Haptics in Mixed Reality Conference

2019 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), IEEE 2019.

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