Tactile Augmented Reality, February 2020

Banner image for whimsic


  • Map Design Lab
  • Pilobolous


  • Technical Direction
  • Experience Design
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Software Development
Whimsic is an interactive application for the Magic Leap headset that explores movement and meditation through a tactile augmented reality experience. Map Design Lab, Pilobolous, and Glowbox worked together to implement design, movement, and technical solutions, resulting in a symbiotic success— producing an app that highlights Pilobolous’ choreography with MAP’s design + motion capture within a seamless augmented experience.
Avatar design sample
Avatar design sample
Exploration using physical triggers for moods
Exploration using physical triggers for moods
Beginning as an exploration in tactile AR, Whimsic employs Magic Leap’s hand-tracking technology, allowing the body to become an interface. The app allows you to explore and interact in your environment through a calming experience prompted by curiosity. Beginning by selecting one of three themes— joyful, calm, or brave— your space is then populated with a miniature world of soundscapes and dance, choreographed to reflect the chosen mood. Shrunken dancers appear as avatars surfaced with colored designs that compliment the mood, resulting in a captivating yet relaxed atmosphere. While exploring, you are encouraged to cup your hands together or touch handprints generated within the environment, inviting more tiny dancers to move through your surroundings or atop the stage your hands provide. Simultaneously, these gestures cue a new musical phrase to match. All in all, Whimsic is an exploration on virtual meditation, providing a platform to retreat and explore through abstraction and interaction.
At Glowbox, we created an experience strategy for the app through prototyping and software development that would allow all of the ‘moving parts’ to work in harmony. Without reinventing the wheel, we were able to integrate our software with new media tools and frameworks that would allow Pilobolous + MAP Design Lab’s vision to work smoothly within an augmented reality.
With Whimsic, we explore what’s possible when movement and mixed reality meet. Virtual spaces no longer need to be witnessed— they can be experienced. Here, we take advantage of an existing space to contextualize it in ways that we don’t usually experience. A room isn’t a room, it is a stage, it is a sanctuary.
Magic Leap capture showing the Calm mood
Magic Leap capture showing the Calm mood
Magic Leap capture showing Joyful mood
Magic Leap capture showing Joyful mood


  • Ben Purdy
  • Thomas Wester
  • Melissa Painter
  • Joey Verbeke
  • Shari Frilot
  • Yuehao Jiang
  • Jiedi Chen
  • Jen Fong
  • Toby Poser
  • Abril Martinez
  • Pilobolous

Tools & Technologies

  • Unity
  • Magic Leap