In this blog post we will look at the fundamentals of immersive experiences. What makes them immersive in the first place?
What is an Immersive Experience?
An immersive experience is pulling a person into a new or augmented world, giving them space to explore and engage on their own and enrich everyday life via technology. We must start with a purpose when designing an immersive interaction or installation. Understanding the human condition, how they behave, feel and think about the world around them, gives us information how we can build stories they can be part of. Great immersive experiences make the user discover the story themselves. That’s really the key to creating a compelling immersive experience.
If the experience doesn’t have a purpose, the technology becomes a gadget. Making a 360° Video is nice, but if you can’t engage, if it doesn’t feel reel to you, then why bother. You could just use a screen.
You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to sell it.– Steve Jobs, 1997
Strategies to Create an Immersive Experience
1. Start with the Big Idea
Always start with the concept, the big idea, not the implementation and what tools to use. The experience is in the foreground, when people are using the tools (headset, controllers), they should melt into the environment and become invisible. This is the goal.
Start asking these questions: What do you want people to feel? To experience? What role do your visitors play in the story? What is their purpose? What is the message you want to leave them with?
When you know what their journey will look like you can choose the elements that will bring that idea to life.
2. Nail the Details
The little, transformative things are what bring a setting to life. Details in the visualization but other sensations as well, can make the experience becomes more immersive. Things like sound, video quality and intuitive interaction make the immersion even greater.
Also providing a sense of place and what is beyond that place gives a greater impression of the story and that is part of something larger. This is as true for an immersive environment that never leaves a small room, or an epic feature film.
3. Incorporate Location-Based Interactions
A powerful marketing tool is geofencing, it utilizes location data to establish a virtual territory. Like walking into a store and having a discount code automatically pop up on your phone. Location-based interactions can be used in different scenarios. A story could be presented on your phone while you go through an exhibition, showing you hidden details and facts to the objects. Or at a conference or meeting you could be easily connected with other people who share the same value as you do and locate them.
4. Enable Multi-User Interaction
Creating connections between people or make them interact together in the environment extend their experience. Enabling socializing in an event makes it more immersive.
5. Use Positional-Tracking Hardware
Most mobile VR headsets like Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View only have rotational tracking, you can look around and tilt your head, but your position is fixed to one spot, you are not part of the world. A great VR experience lets you move through the virtual world physically to gain a feeling for the space. Positional tracking hardware uses sensors to assess motion and position relative to its environment.
A successful immersive experience is the sum of its parts, and sometimes the simplest use of technology is the best solution. The goal has to be well defined, what the user should see and feel. Interactions should be simple and take low effort.
Designing for Interactive Environments and Smart Spaces https://www.toptal.com/designers/interactive/designing-for-interactive-environments-and-smart-spaces
What is an Immersive Experience And How Do You Create One? https://clevertap.com/blog/immersive-experience/
The 6 Secrets To Creating A Truly Immersive Experience https://www.forbes.com/sites/sethporges/2016/06/09/the-6-secrets-to-creating-a-truly-immersive-experience/?sh=27aeeb223918
How virtual reality positional tracking works https://venturebeat.com/2019/05/05/how-virtual-reality-positional-tracking-works/