To be immersed is almost to step into another world. Our life, as we experience it through our senses, is what I feel the pinnacle of immersion is. Our five senses are constantly bombarded with information: images, sounds, tactile sensations, tastes and smells. This resonates with the categories of sensory/tactile immersion Kayla has highlighted. It seems to me most examples of immersive environment attempt to recreate an experience that is to some degree closer to the world we experience around us. With reference to Val, The Sims series of video games tries to mimic the the real world by recreating interactions, sounds and visuals found in real life. There’s so much going on in the Sims that the user forgets about reality while focusing in on this alternate reality.
The word data suggests we’re talking in a digital context. Data isn’t necessarily a reference to digital, but for the sake of this conversation I’d like to keep it in a digital context. Typically we think of data representation as being limited to our computer screens, headphones, etc. In reference to Denna’s post we’re definitely “submerged” in information.
“Blaring Facebook statuses, twitters, web-blogs, videos-of-the-week, single-source news controversies, public scandals, health fads, food scams, epidemic-of-the-week.”
I’m sure we’ve all experienced something similar: a person sits at a computer screen; their headphones plugged in; their eyes transfixed upon the screen. Trying to start conversation with these people is rather difficult as much of what you say to them doesn’t get through. It’s almost as if they’ve been transported into another world. Facebook, twitter, videos, music and similar things create a sort of subset of our reality, but another important part of immersion I’ve noticed is building upon our experience. I wouldn’t quite categorize our media bombardment alone as an immersive experience; it’s more of a stepping stone. An example would be the Nintendo Wii.
Video games already remove us from our world, but the Wii introduced a new dimension to game play by extending not just visual and aural, but the physical and spacial element that video games had previously lacked. We’re starting to explore physical interaction with data. Touch screens and motion detection have become popular in the technological world. Everything from cellphones, hand-held game systems and computers are now picking up on the element of physical interaction.
A cool example of this would be Bumptop. Bumptop is a new approach to computer desktops. It takes our data and represents it literally as you would find on a desk in real life. This, in combination with touch screens and motion sensing technology, gives the user a sense of physical and spacial control. We seem to be moving towards a virtual reality. In the future moving objects around on a desktop may present tactile sensation on top of the visual, aural and spacial elements that we are currently exploring. Instead of representing 3-dimensional spaces on a 2-dimensional screen, perhaps we will find a way to create true spacial environments in which we work in. Remembering that this is a virtual reality, composed of data, we come to the point of augmentation and manipulation.
Again my ideal form of immersive environment is simply a recreation of the environment we live in. Not only does technology mimic our reality, but enhances it, allowing us to manipulate and augment our experiences. Imagine studying brain surgery in which a simulation can be done that nearly recreates the real life experience. The surgeon in training could feel force feed back from the scalpel, there may be information fed to them such as heart rates and time gauges and of course if they screw up they can always start over and try again.
Creating immersive environments definitely has a relation to creativity and art. From my point of view creating these environments is much like painting; we are reproducing with fine detail the world around us. On top of that it’s creative in the way it allows the audience interact with the recreation or art that would be virtual reality.
[Rough Copy just reserving my spot ~]
Video Games & Motion Sensing Tech – http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2009/06/motion-sensor.html