First, review the 17 UN SDGs and determine which one(s) you have a passion and/or interest in.
Find one or more (up to 6 total) team members; share and discuss with friends and family, school-mates, and ask if anyone wants to do this fun initiative with you. Also, check out the "Community" tab on this web-site within your SDG to post your interest in finding team members - maybe someone from the other side of the world will respond with similar intent, and then just like that - you are part of a team! (See Team Guidelines to make sure your team has a qualifying composition).
You and your team members pre-register on this site. It is quick and easy. This will let us know that you are "going for it!"
Attend one of the "All-Teams" communication webinars that will be scheduled with Exponential Destiny so we can answer any questions and also give you some tips and tricks from our own experience mentoring people in this space.
Get a Virtual Reality headset (if you can't afford one you may apply for financial aid, based on funding availability - see submission form) - you can get one for the entire team, or several. You will be able to use your phone and computer as well to design and create, however the real experience is from the immersive VR environment. The Oculus Quest 2 (now called Meta Quest 2) is one of the newer and more advanced affordable headsets that retails for about $350 (w taxes/shipping). However there are plenty of options for VR Headsets, and also you may find refurbished units (slightly used) as well.
Next, determine which VR Metaverse Platform you'd like to use within your team to design and create your experience - Specifically, once you get into a VR headset (or even from your desktop computer) you will find numerous "apps" that you can download (most of them for free at this point) that will provide you functions and features (i.e., click here, select this menu option, etc.) that will enable you to start to manipulate the 3D environment that you are in virtually. Just like how you learned to download apps on your phone and then edit and create videos and images and post on social media, in these VR apps you will learn how to manipulate and create content, actually whole new worlds! Some of the apps we recommend that you review are: Engage VR, Gatherings, SpatialVR, Horizons. Experiment with these and others to find the one that is best for you. These are just a few of the top VR environment designer (non-technical) platforms. You can create an entire imaginary world in some of theses apps in VR without actually writing any technical code. Why? Well just like editing a Powerpoint presentation or a Social Media post, the app has features and functions that let you manipulate the environment to create whatever you imagine! For example, you can add a 3D object of a Dolphin that you found on the internet as a free-ware 3D VR object. Add rain and clouds to your environment. Bring in music and videos. Pull in a graphic that looks like a "sandy surface", and similar to a carpenter using their hands to lay down tile, you use your virtual hands in VR to "lay down" sandy surface images to create a beach next to an ocean. Or even better, find a fully created beach-scene in the app or on-line as a 3d clip-art and import it into your environment. Also, you create "Avatars" in these environments which are digital versions of you (or your alternate persona). You can create an Avatar of one of your favorite historical figures or celebrities and then you can "wear" that Avatar and act out a scene from an historical event or a famous movie (e.g., JAWS!). The possibilities are endless!
Meet your team in VR - once you and your team determine the VR app/platform you will be using, start to meet your team in VR. You will be surprised how "life-like" it feels to look "face to face" with your team members in VR. In these environments you can start to think about your design for your SDG experience for the competition.
Ideate and "Don't be Afraid to Fail" - Now is the fun part. Start to discuss with your team (in-person, on Zoom, and/or in VR) some of the ideas that you have for "bringing to life" the SDG you have chosen. Don't over think it - You just have to get in there and experiment and NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL! The worst that could happen is you create something that you need to scrap and start over.... it's just digital (not real) assets, so there is not cost to trial & error & retry, it's actually part of the creative learning process.To start, you and your team will need to define an "immersive experience" and communication strategy for how you feel you can create an imaginary virtual 3D environment in virtual reality for your chosen SDG (for further details of types of approaches see Q&A: "The Competition is about 'Bringing-to-Life' an SDG in 'Immersive & Experiential VR Metaverse Environments'?) - Can You Explain What You Mean?"). We suggest you and your team members ask yourself the question: "If I wanted to learn about this particular SDG (e.g., SDG #14 - 'Life Below Water'), what type of environment would be the most immersive, compelling, interesting, and engaging for me experience?" Each team member should spend some time independently thinking about this question, and just "imagine" an experience. Tip: Do not restrict your thinking around "what can or can't I do in this VR software?" (scarcity mindset), but instead think about this question with an ABUNDANCE mindset; "What experience do I wish I could create?" Once you have given it some thought - and there is no right or wrong answers - reconvene as a team, and each of you should share your answers to this question. As a group, you should consider each idea, explore combining different aspects of each idea that you like, and ultimately come up with solid concepts that you feel serve two purposes: "Wow Factor" and "Education Factor". Wow Factor are those aspects of the concept that will engage your audience- entertainment, humor/comedy, music, engaging story-telling, gamification (make it into an interactive game in VR, like a treasure hunt or quiz to move to the next level, etc.). Educational Factor are those aspects of the concept that ensure you are properly focused on learning and about the challenges and opportunities with the SDG. Too much WOW Factor... well as the saying goes; "It's not all fun and games". Even though in VR it can feel this way, be sure to balance the WOW factor with also some real valuable education and learning elements. This means you need to research the SDG to truly understand how to explain the challenges and opportunities associated with the SDG. You get the idea! A helpful resource on this entire IDEATION approach is to listen to Exponential Destiny's Chief Design Officer - SAMANTHA AGUILAR ARAUJO, a recent graduate from a public High School in South Central Los Angeles, California, and now an Art Major in College, Sam really describes it best in this video. (https://youtu.be/dggLBnUYQfs?t=2462). (Also see Prize Evaluation and Judging Criteria section 3 for more details).
Now that you have some ideas and concepts with your team to bring-to-life the SDG you have chosen, you have from March to August 2022 to work with your team to create that immersive experience in virtual reality for this competition. When you get into the VR designer platform that you are using, you will most likely have the option of starting off by selecting an environment. For example, for SDG #14 - 'Life Below Water' you may start in a completely white and empty room/space in VR, where you and your other team members meet and start to create from scratch the vision for your concept. Many of these apps have pre-staged/created environments to choose from (or you can find 3d VR images on-line, usually for free, to easily import into VR), so you could literally start off in an environment where you are at the bottom of the ocean (instead of "just add water", you "just add ideas", like 3D images of fish, coral, etc.).PRO-TIP: You or someone on your team may decide to dive deeper into some of the more advanced features of these VR design platforms, and other technical hardware and software that let's you become more advanced in these environments: (here are few with short descriptions you can Google search to find out more.... go explore and learn! These skills are the modern-day "non-coding" Coding competencies that will be relevant in the new digital job economy!)
LiDAR Imaging - You can use the latest iPhone 13 (as well as other phone brands and models) to "scan" an image using the LiDAR built-into new phones. For example, borrow an iPhone or use your own and scan your dog and then import that "digital twin" 3D image of your dog into your VR environment, and make him/her the size of a house!
360-Degree Videos - Using a 360 degree camera device, like a Go-Pro you can create videos / film footage and then easily import it into VR to share the experience in 3D. For an SDG there are many creative filming and footage you can take in oder to "bring to life" that SDG.
3D Graphic Design Software - There are many easy-to-use, to more advanced professional software programming tools - even some popular open-sourced for free software https://www.blender.org/ - that let you create your own 3D objects, even NFTs. These apps you can use to design something you imagine and then bring that image into your VR environment.
NFTs - Non-Fungible Tokens are all the hype right now, but basically you can create a digital object that can be "officially recorded" on a blockchain.... all that means is that it is unique, and thus scarce, because now your 3d object is the only "original" of that design in the world. You may think of ways to incorporate NFTs into your VR experiences.
Embedded Scene Recording/Animation - In these Metaverse VR platforms you will start to see some advance "behind the scenes" powerful ways to manipulate your environment. One specific advanced feature in several platforms is the ability to easily record ANYTHING that you see and produce in VR. For example, in VR you could take a 3D image of an dolphin, and using a technique called "puppeteering", you can use your super-powers (like invisible strings) to make the dolphin go up-and-down in-and-out of some 3d water objects. Really cool right? Well you can record that animation as you do it, and then play it back whenever you want to (using triggers for example), thus your audience will see something you previously recorded thinking it was happening for the first time right in front of them (in VR). This even gets more interesting when you start to embed recording within other recordings! Mind-Blow! You basically can create an entire stage-production, just like a theater director, and play every role and every actor yourself, but then integrate all of those recordings into a final MASTERPIECE and invite all of your friends to experience! (or in this case for this prize competition, all of the "Judges" at the United Nations-ITU-PP Summit in Bucharest Romania in October). Bravo! This is the "Art of the Possible" of VR and the Metaverse.Note: To put in perspective how innovation in this field is evolving and improving exponentially, consider the list of innovations and options/tools at your disposal just listed above. A few years ago, these were not even options for you to use – either they were too expensive (tens of thousands of dollars of hardware and software), too technical (requiring advanced programming skills and advanced software training), or just not easily accessible. Now, for example, you have LiDAR on your mobile phone, along with “apps” that let a novice use LiDAR to scan an image and bring it into VR in 3D. Now you have a 360 degree camera you can pick up at your local Consumer Technology retailer. And it doesn’t stop here in 2022! Think about where this technology will be in the next 3 years. The next 10 years! Consider other “exponential” elements as well, such as bandwidth communication of 5G and beyond, the integration of Artificial Intelligence and AI in VR, not to mention the Hardware innovation around the Virtual/Augmented Reality Headsets; e.g., from “NextGen VR Headsets” to “Smart XR Glasses” to “Smart XR Contact Lenses” (XR=Mixed Reality: A combination of Augmented and Virtual Reality). Now is an exciting time to get into this field, as the years to come we will continue to see exponential innovation and the “democratization” (access for all) of these capabilities.
How do you know when you are finished? In these environments you have unlimited and abundance of space and 3D assets to leverage. You really only stop when you and your team feel like you are hitting diminishing returns on the experience. Think "quality vs. quantity". Big is not always better. Too much "shiny objects" can be counter-productive to your audience/a learner if it gets distracting or overwhelming. So find the right balance. The best way to know when you are finished is to bring in a "new fresh pair of eyes", or Avatars! Ask some friends or relatives who have not seen your team's space get into a headset and experience the environment you created. Then ask them for feedback on "what worked?", "what didn't work?". You may have to go through several feedback cycles in order to iterate and ameliorate your experience before you find the optimized version you want to submit for the competition!
Once you feel like your experience is near completion, you will need to start to create a "tour" through your experience in which you demonstrate to a participant/audience (of one or more individuals) in Virtual Reality how to experience your Team's environment. This is the same "tour" that the competition judges will experience in order to evaluate the top team experiences against the evaluation criteria (see "JUDGING & EVALUATION CRITERIA"). In addition to the immersive VR (with a headset) experience, your team will also be required to develop a video summarizing your environment and experience that may be viewed on a 2-D screen. This video may not exceed 5 minutes of duration. Note: To create this video, you will "stream-cast" key aspects of your VR environment "tour" from within your headset onto a 2D screen that is recording what is being displayed on the screen. You may then edit the live-streamed video content to create a final version of a video for official submission (Team VR experiences and Videos will be due by end of February, 2023). Although the 360 degree 3D elements are not always easy to capture on a 2D recording of the experience, this required video is intended to be an asset that will exist and be used to share aspects of your experience with those that do not have access to a VR headset. The goal is to help scale the educational elements and learnings your team created around the SDG. This video may also be used to assist Judges to more easily evaluate a larger number of team entries, in the scenario that there is an extreme quantity of separate team experiences. For example, videos may be used by Judges to initially review a large quantity of team experience submissions, to then determine which sub-set the Judges will then experience in a fully immersive virtual reality designed tour.
Eventually, you and your team will be proud and happy with your final experience. You need to time this to be finished by March 1st, 2023 (subject to change), as this is when your team's submission is due (VR experience and Video of VR experience) and "frozen" for the Evaluation and Judging in Round 1 to begin. (See "Round 1 - Judging and Evaluation Process"). Essentially, at this time there will be a process to identify and rank the top team submissions WITHIN your specific SDG and age-category. If you team's experience is selected as the top finalist within your SDG, you may be awarded a cash prize for being a semi-finalist (see "Prize Awards" section), and you will move on to the Grand Finals and attend (in-person or virtually) the UN-WSIS Summit in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2023 (tentatively planned) as an exhibitor to demonstrate your experience to the Summit attendees who will vote on their "Overall Best Experience of Show" grand prize. This grand prize winner will win a cash prize and overall honors and recognition. It could be you! GOOD LUCK!