Tap Into Your Inner Sense of Calm, Energy, and Awe with ‘Liminal’ on the Quest Platform

Oculus Blog
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April 7, 2022
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With over 60 experiences across three categories (Calm, Energy, and Awe), Liminal helps people choose how they’d like to feel. It’s informed by years of research and draws on developments in fields as diverse as neuroscience and psychology to video games, music, and film. Previously available on App Lab, we’re excited to share that it’s now available for free on the official Meta Quest Store.

We sat down with Liminal VR CEO Damian Moratti and Managing Director Nick Busietta to learn more.

What was the inspiration behind Liminal?

Liminal was inspired by the medium of virtual reality itself. After exploring the early VR experiences that were available in 2014, we were immediately struck by the power that virtual reality had to induce and augment emotional and cognitive states. Fun things in VR are really fun, and scary things are really scary. There’s something unique to the medium and the psychological effect it has on people that sparked an eight-year journey of R&D by the Liminal team of neuroscientists and psychologists, rapid prototyping, and global partnerships with schools and universities, which have culminated with the launch of Liminal on Meta Quest.

How long was Liminal in development? Any favorite anecdotes you’d like to share?

Liminal was conceptualized in late 2014, and we’ve been working towards this launch in one way or another since then.

There are many anecdotes that we could share of our journey over the last eight years, but what we’re most proud of are the stories our community shares around how Liminal has helped and entertained them. It’s the anecdotes from our community that bring us the most joy.

How does Liminal differentiate itself from comparable apps on the market?

Liminal was created from the ground up to be native to virtual reality— there’s nothing quite like Liminal on the market at the moment. There are calming experiences and lots of fun games out there, but Liminal offers a unique assortment of Calming, Energizing, and Awe-Inspiring experiences that are ranked and rated by our community in order of effectiveness and enjoyability. We also have a global network of schools and universities who access our research and contribute to Liminal, and we’ll be rolling out new categories over time, so stay tuned!

You incorporated research from neuroscientists and psychologists. What was that process like? Did you work with any researchers directly?

Liminal has been heavily focused on research from inception. We currently have a full-time behavioral neuroscientist on the team as well as psychologists who work closely with our development team on our experiences. Over the years, we’ve both expanded and simplified our research to make it more accessible to the wide network of schools and universities we partner with in Australia, Canada, the US, the UK, and expanding to Europe soon. Aside from research modules built into Liminal via our Lab, we’ve collaborated with other researchers such as the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health on the largest color-emotion study ever conducted to help ascertain the importance of context on the emotional perception of colors in an environment.

What’s the best reaction you’ve seen since originally launching on App Lab?

We’ve been blown away by the positive reception we’ve had on App Lab. What we’re really delighted about is that our community understands that although we offer many calming experiences that people love, Liminal is much more than a meditation app. Seeing people jump in for many different reasons and use cases is what we had always dreamed of.

What influenced the overall art direction?

We’re lucky that we have such a talented team to help drive and implement the art direction. We’ve played an active, hands-on role in the overall utility and aesthetics of Liminal, as well as helping design experiences, but it’s our art team that deserves the credit.

Who did you work with on the soundtrack and sound design? What was that experience like?

There are many different experiences on Liminal, and each experience is unique in some way regarding sound design and implementation. We’ve designed and created many of the soundscapes in our experiences but have also had the pleasure of working with many talented musicians and audio engineers over the years for some of our own experiences and experiences created by our partners.

What’s your favorite part of the app and why?

Our favorite part of the app is the app itself—as Aristotle famously said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That could not be truer than exploring a wide range of experiences from within the Liminal ecosystem. Our goal was always to create a beautiful and intuitive user interface, designed from the ground up for VR but also being pragmatic with the use of both 2D and 3D interfaces and unique pull down/pull up mechanics to showcase the many dozens of experiences available. Going from arena (emotion category) to arena, checking out new content and how it has been rated by others, and favoriting experiences that we’re drawn to is at the core of what Liminal is about and what differentiates it so dramatically from other apps out there.

What advice would you give to a developer looking to start building for VR?

The founders and researchers at Liminal are often invited to give guest lectures on VR UX design and implementation—it is at the core of everything we do. When speaking to students or indie devs who are just getting into the space, we usually start by being very bullish on the industry in general. VR has had many hurdles along the way to mainstream adoption, but we have reached a tipping point now where immersive experience is going to continue to grow in demand for both consumers and commercial enterprises. It’s a great time to start building in VR!

When lecturing on UX and mentoring students, we cover many topics. But if we had to pick one piece of advice, it would be to develop with a user-centric focus and to be very critical of your own work.

What’s next for you? Any exciting updates in the works?

Although it has been the culmination of almost eight years of work, we see the Meta Quest launch as just the beginning. Over the next few months, we’ll be integrating features and functionality that our community has been asking for (including subscriptions for unlocking all the content and premium features). Aside from that, as a live platform, new and evolving content is always at the forefront of our development pipeline, not just internally at Liminal but also working with our global network of partners. Expect new experiences regularly and new categories over time—with new surprises always around the corner!

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

We could not be more excited about the Meta Quest Store launch. If you haven’t already used Liminal, there are lots of free and varied content for all tastes—give it a try and let us know what you think!