Building an inclusive, weird, and fun future

01. Doug North Cook

It's me! Hi!

I am a designer, educator, and artist interested in how technology can make us more human. Most of my current work explores immersive technology, embodiment, emotion, and designing for the senses.

I am currently the lead faculty member for the Immersive Media program at Chatham University where I teach, conduct research, and work with amazing students to explore immersive technology, push boundaries, engage responsibly, and challenge established systems.

In the last several years I have worked on projects with Fallingwater, Facebook & Oculus, The National Science Foundation, IEEE, Commnunity College of Allegheny County, among others, and am currently pursuing a variety of projects focused on accessibility for immersive applications.

I am constantly looking for new ways to create meaningful experiences that are available and accessible to everyone. If you are working on accessible tools, universal design, weird VR art, AR educational apps, innovative furniture; things at the intersection of design, art, and immersive technology - I'd like to hear about it. You can find me easily on twitter email works too

This page is mostly a place for me to catalog projects, writing, talks, and share the occasional oddity.

the terraces in the woods at fallingwater

02. IMMERSIVE DESIGN AT FALLINGWATER

Working with the Fallingwater Institute, we developed a unique residency experience for professionals working in immersive technology. The Fallingwater Immersive Design Residency brings together designers, developers, and producers from all over the world for a week-long offline experience exploring Fallingwater, architectural theory, multi-sensory design, and more, all while living in a spectacular dwelling on the top of the mountain - a place called High Meadow.

the house at High Meadow

fallingwater immersive convening

In the fall of 2018, we invited a group of people working at different corners of immersive technology; researchers, designers, founders, and developers to have a series of structured conversations about difficult issues in the industry. These conversations were framed under the question "How do we make VR something that is for everyone?"



After the Convening at Fallingwater we debated about the proper way to document some of our discussions, make available a bit of our learnings, and commemorate our time. Robin Hunicke and I worked with the incredible Gage Lindsten to produce the first Fallingwater Convening Zine. We spent a long weekend in the woods near Fallingwater working with Gage to capture the optimistic tone set in some of conversations and imagine a positive future built with immersive technology at its core. You can find the zine at the Fallingwater Museum Store or linked here.

chatham university student working in vr

03. IMMERSIVE MEDIA PROGRAM AT CHATHAM UNIVERSITY

Chatham University is a special place. This year we celebrate our 150th anniversary and our 5th as a fully gender inclusive institution after 145 years of being a historic women's institution. We believe that all people should be afforded respect, regard, and be invited to participate in the industries that will change what it means to be human. That's why we started our Immersive Media program at Chatham: to create an inclusive future. I am proud of the work we have accomplished in these past few years and we're just getting started.

The development for the Immersive Media program at Chatham University started in 2015 as the result of a conversation between me and Kyra Tucker, the director of our Interior Architecture program, about using VR for architectural visualization. Those discussions led to a collaborative effort between multiple departments and faculty to develop one of the first undergraduate programs focused exclusively on creating content for immersive platforms. We successfully launched the program in fall of 2019 with an excited first cohort!

The University was awarded an incredibly generous $1 Million dollar grant from the McElhattan Foundation in order to support the founding of the Immersive Media Program.



Watch as I ramble my way through a very early conversation about this program with Kent Bye

04. TALKS & WORKSHOPS & WRITING

Here are a few of my favorite talks, panels, workshops, and articles from the last couple of years. If you'd like to talk having me at your conference or event please reach out. I am also always happy to refer you to colleagues and peers who may be a better fit.
  • GDC - How Do You Make VR For Everyone?
  • XRDC Learning to Do Design Thinking for Immersive Experiences
  • Reboot Develop Blue - Inclusive Futures in Augmented Realities
  • Immersive Design Summit - Diagrammatic Drawing: The Hidden Nature of Objects
  • Penn State University STEM Education in Virtual Worlds Conference (in partnership with NSF) - "Building for VR First: Design Thinking and Interactive Environment Design”.
  • Virtual Reality World Congress - "Design Thinking and Interactive Environment Design"
  • Universal Design for Immersive Experiences - Article written for Oculus
  • Immersive Design Interview with Sam Gage - Article written for Oculus
  • Designing for Humans - Article written for Oculus
  • Gamasutra Interview

05. PROJECTS

Below are a collection of projects - prototypes - jokes ideas - and works in progress.

forestry

You’re hired! Forestry hands you the axe and puts you to work. There is so much work to be done and you’re responsible. Don’t mess it up. If you fall down in the forest do the trees hear you? Is that the saying? Am I doing this right? Is this thing on?

Logs. Trees. Axes. Secrets. Hidden items. Music? Sure. Your own campsite? I guess so. Bash a tree to a thousand pieces and then assemble them into a monstrosity of your own invention! Build a cabin, fashion a monument to an unknown god, wow your friends with a self portrait made entirely of wood shavings! Get to work.

writing the end

Working with VR artist Liz Edwards, we created Writing the End - an attempt to create a short VR narrative experience in just 8 days. While Liz created art in Tilt Brush - I wrote music, recorded VO with voice actress Suzanne Meyer, and built the skeleton of the experience in Unreal. We then published it with Oculus and ported it to Oculus Go.

jokes and prototypes

06. WHAT'S NEXT?

I will be focusing my work for the rest of 2019 and 2020 on our Immersive programs at the University. Apart from that, I am actively working to develop an open-source toolkit, example projects, and plugins, focused on bringing easier to implement accessibility features to immersive experiences. I will be posting updates on these projects on Twitter and then eventually on here once we have them.

let's not be too serious

goodbye!