Mood Garden

Real-world location based, semi-immersive virtual reality landscape overlaid on public spaces


Team: Adam Novack; Jiasi Tan; Ziyi Zhang

My Role: UX Research, Prototyping, Design

Context: Harvard Responsive Environment Studio Course Project

Publication: Harvard Graduated School of Design, Real Lab Publication: 2014

Skills: Augmented Reality, Digital Landscape Design, Xcode, IOS App, Swift



Mood Garden is a real-world location based, semi-immersive virtual reality project with social network features. It’s a digital landscape overlaid on a real public space expressed through digital devices. The contents change according to the emotional states of messages posted by visitors in real-time. Visitors can walk around the physical space where Mood Garden covers and enjoy dynamic digital sceneries. As a result, Mood Garden bridges cyberspace and the real world, creating more online and offline connections among people and bringing a new type of landscape experiences.

Mood and Social Connections

The concept for our design is to create a digital garden that can be used in the daily life of the inhabitants of the city to provide a direct sense of what’s happening surrounding and what are other people thinking nearby, result in creating more directly social connection method.



Problem Space

 Traditional Perception of the City:

Weather Forecast; CNN; BBC, etc.



Traditional Perception of other People:

Facebook; Twitter; Weibo, etc. 



People are not able to perceive what happens nearby directly without those traditional methods



People are not able to perceive what’s the people nearby are thinking directly without those tradition methods




Based on the research, we created the Mood Garden, which is a digital landscape overlaid on the backyard of the Harvard GSD Gund Hall. Unlike traditional landscape architecture, Mood Garden creates an ever-changing, responsive, semi-digital and semi-physical public space. It displays visitors’ own stories and generates well-designed landscape elements.

As a result, the scenery through digital devices is the combination of different stories with different digital landscape elements overlaid on the real space. Colorful flowers appear where people are expressing their joyfulness; leaves falling down where people are worried about their days. Messages come into this place, consisting a big story about this area. People get to know others’ stories.

The city through digital devices overlaid a new layer providing direct perception




The Layer of Digital Landscape

The physical part of Mood Garden creates a real context for its digital parts, which enables visitors to walk through the pathways physically and observe Mood Garden from different perspectives in real space. The digital part of Mood Garden provides experiences you can never have in a traditional landscape - responsive and various.

The scenes change according to what the users closest in proximity are thinking and feeling, for example, it creates blossoms of sunflowers surrounding someone when he or she is excited. In this case, it makes people more aware of the condition around them.



The formal intent of this garden is to generate a fantasy like environment, while still maintaining a space that is connected to the urban life and issues around it. Through understanding the current issues as well as gathering data about technical conditions, we can create a garden that is strongly linked to its context but has the ability to feel like it exists in another world.


People are sharing their moods through the digital devices








Bluetooth Devices (BLE)



BLE UUIDS & Observing Points



Trilateration Location System to Determine Location of Points



In geometry, trilateration is the process of determining absolute or relative locations of points by measurement of distances, using the geometry of circles, spheres or triangles. In addition to its interest as a geometric problem, trilateration does have practical applications in surveying and navigation, including global positioning systems (GPS). In contrast to triangulation, it does not involve the measurement of angles. In two-dimensional geometry, it is known that if a point lies on two circles, then the circle centers and the two radii provide sufficient information to narrow the possible locations down to two. Additional information may narrow the possibilities down to one unique location.


In three-dimensional geometry, when it is known that a point lies on the surfaces of three spheres, then the centres of the three spheres along with their radii provide sufficient information to narrow the possible locations down to no more than two (unless the centres lie on a straight line). This article describes a method for determining the intersections of three sphere surfaces given the centres and radii of the three spheres.



The project was firstly reviewed on May 21st, 2014.



Thanks for reading!