Chemical Engineering undergrad wins at MIT Reality Hack

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Drawing of a temple with a multicoloured treeImage a of a temple from SoulSync Virtual Reality game.

Third-year Chemical Engineering student Amy Qin and her team’s virtual reality game was a big winner at the MIT Reality Hack. Qin attended a Solana Foundation event in Lisbon in 2022 and met the organizers of Solana U, a program connecting university students to opportunities. She was invited to attend MIT Reality Hack sponsored by Solana Foundation and was selected as ambassador after the event to lead an accelerator. 

 The theme of the Hackathon was “presence”. Qin, inspired by her Taoist faith, had the vision to create a game about mindfulness that would encourage people to be present in all the moments of their lives.

Qin pitched the concept of the game to a few people on the first day of the Hackathon. She narrowed her team down to five members, herself, Matt T, Luna Zhiyue Wang, Mark Zhang, and Ji Hee Yoon. After becoming a team, they had 36 hours to hack and create their game! “We had 3 days to build the project and we worked through sleepless nights,” Qin reflects. 

 The team created SoulSync, a WebXR multiplayer Virtual Reality (VR) game. In SoulSync, the objective is to synchronize players’ hand movements with other players. In the experience, people feel immersed in the act of following and taking the lead, as well as in the beautiful environment that surrounds them in the game’s virtual reality.

Qin learned to make an interactive interface in Babylon JS. She applied Babylon in a unique way to incorporate traditional spiritual and religious art styles into the game. The aim was to create a VR experience that promotes calming, engaging tasks such as guided Tai Chi motions, in which players are also interacting with other remote users in the environment.

According to Qin, they struggled and learned throughout the event. Her training in Chemical Engineering was crucial to her creative process.

“Being a Chemical Engineering student taught me how to approach and solve problems on the fly,” says Qin. “It's very much like a design problem, where we propose a design and iterate on the different aspects of the problem and approach to come to a unanimous solution. Then, it's a bit like an experiment. Following a set of guiding steps and testing to see if the product is working as intended.”

Amy Qin at the event

 Amy Qin at the MIT Reality Hack

The game also has a charitable component. A token on the Solana Blockchain is minted every time a player SoulSyncs in the game. By SoulSyncing, tokens are collected to a charity wallet until the max supply is reached. There will be a charity sale on the token where the proceeds will be donated to blockchain-powered charities voted by players.  

The team is looking forward to refining and improving their game in the hopes of competing at L.A.Tech Week.

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