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Lil’ Garden

Role //

Interaction Designer, Prototyper

Duration //

January — March 2024

Tools //

Meta Quest, Unity, Figma

Collaborators //

Aarnav Patel

As we move towards a spatial computing future, the physical and digital worlds becomes increasingly blended. Lil’ Garden is a gamified experience that explores the question:

How can we leverage the affordances of spatial computing to translate physical experiences into XR?

cover image

Problem Space

The physical experience we chose to explore was nurturing. We wanted to explore how the ideas of accountability, protection, patience, and affection could build a reason for a person to come back to a virtual space. Hence, the main research question for the project was: How can we translate the ’nurturing experience‘ into XR?

What would make people come back into the virtual space?

What does it mean to care for something in the virtual space?


Identifying Design Opportunities

Through thinking about the user journey, the team keyed in on specific points where interactions could help with the nurturing experience.

User Journey Map

We decided that we wanted to:

1. Create an onboarding process so that visitors learn about the interactions that take place in the experience, allowing them to build an emotional connection with the garden.

2. Design the actual gardening interaction, making them want to return to the virtual world to care for their garden.

3. Consider how we could design a physical device to remind people of the virtual garden while they were in the physical world, triggering their emotional connection with the garden.


The bucket is an element that will exist both in the physical and virtual worlds, serving as a connection between the two.


Virtual Interactions

In the virtual world, the is one of the primary tools that the visitor uses to take care of their garden.

When visitors fill up their buckets, the color of the bucket will become increasingly blue as feedback. The visitor has to move back and forth from the garden to the well to refill their bucket, enforcing the concept of patience.

Filling Bucket

Onboarding Experience


When thinking about the layout of the gardening process, I wanted to consider the different values of nuturing: accountability, protection, patience, and affection. Each of the stations in the onboarding process corresponds to one of these themes.

Experience Layout

Parti Diagram

UI Elements

I designed the assets in a way that would help the visitors navigate themselves through the onboarding process. The signs and steps were pointed, hinting at the direction that the visitor should move.


Rendered Assets

Day and Night

To hint to the visitor the passage of time, the sun and moon would rise and set. Thus, there were different UI elements designed to help the visitor navigate the garden during the day and night.

Day UI Elements

Night UI Elements

Concept Video

Concept video demonstrating all of the assets, UI elements, and interactions together that make up the onboarding process.

Onboarding Concept Video

Gardening Experience

Micro Interactions

By systems diagramming, the team designed interactions for the gardening experience that created a system of both rewards and punishments, gamifying the gardening experience.

Systems Diagram



One of the ways that visitors can take care of their garden is by watering it; however, if not careful, visitors can also overwater their plants. Thus, visitors need to pay careful attention when tending their plants.

Over Watering


Weeding is also one of the ways that visitors take care of thier garden. When a weed appears, visitors must search for the weed in the scene and quickly get rid of it with thier shovel. Otherwise, the weed will damage the health of their garden, causing plants to wilt.


Tech Diagram

Most of the technical considerations for the project came from the interactions that connected the physical world with the virtual world.

Tech Diagram

Project Reflection

This project was my first time working with the Oculus, so a lot of learning came from how to design UI elements for a virtual space as opposed to a digital screen. I learned how to better ground my interactions with the research question of the project. For example, how can I use the sun and moon as an element to hint at the passage of time that comes with nurturing?

For future considerations, the team would want to continue to consider:

1. Scalability: How can the experience change if the visitor is ant-sized?

2. Positive Interactions: How can we continue to design different plants to encourage visitors to customize their gardens and come back?

3. Play Testing: How long would visitors’ gardens last if given a week, month, etc…

4. Product System: Considering more methods to connect the digital garden with the physical world (custom controllers).