By Nicole Glassman
According to the author of Harnessing Human Touch, the Age of Information is passing and the Age of Experience is here. Immersion is building an experiential world that will open new ways of communication, learning, exploring, sharing, understanding and enjoying the world we inhabit. It will also result in vast social and economic changes. Immersion will be part of people’s everyday lives in work, play, relationships and entertainment.
I agree with Kayla and Jonathan that our senses are the height of immersion. Sound is the baseline for immersive experiences. It sets the pace and can be mixed to involve the person in various ways. It creates relevance and can change, renew and refresh the experience.
Colour sets the tone, and ultimately affects the mood. Cooler colours like blue and green bring a sense of calm, while warmer colours like red and orange are more charged and bring excitement and activity to a space.
Creating a tactile environment stimulates touch and gives people more fulfilling interactions, engaging not just eyes and ears, but fingers and hands and gives people a richer, more intense and enjoyable experience.
Smell and taste are not yet available but am sure it will soon become a prominent feature of new media.
Connecting with the experience creates a shared experience with other people and makes them identify with the larger group involved.
I believe Jessie is right – narrative immersion is very important because it connects us to the experience. It gives us an emotional experience; it stimulates our senses as the focus is on the participant or observer. Virtual world games such as Sims or Second Life as Val and Jonathan indicated, attempt to replicate the real world. The emphasis in these games is on the player who can create an alternate reality filled with pleasant events because the player is in total control. The game becomes pleasurable and people become immersed in it and start using it not only for enjoyment but also as an escape from reality that they face in real life.
Denna points out that our minds are constantly bombarded with information. I think sometimes we are overpowered by it. Quite often we don’t realize that we are spending too much time dealing with technology instead of going outside and simply enjoying nature. Jonathan talks about Nintendo Wii, which gives physical and spatial elements to the game. Now you can play golf or ping-pong in your room without going out in the natural environment.
Another example, of the role of immersion in education would be use of the of immersion technology in medical simulators that allow students to practice and improve their skills without posing risk to patients. According to the Harnessing Human Touch immersive surgical simulators replicate the look, feel and even sounds associated with a number of common medical procedures. For example, gastrointestinal endoscopy procedure is a difficult procedure to perform and requires extensive training. Trainees can perfect their skills through the experience of sight, sound and touch which allows them to feel the deformation of the tissue, and then react to the sensation by altering the movement of their hands and fingers and “operate” on a computer-stimulated virtual reality tissue, improving precision and lowering patient risk.
It doesn’t matter if we have full immersion or partial immersion, as Alex indicates, immersion is part of our life.
Harnessing Human Touch.
Mc Cowan, S Creating a Place Far, Far Away. Contact. 2005 v. 47 no.3 p.47