Imagine moving within a virtual world into a multi-dimensional environment without having to change your surroundings. Design along with technology has the ability to create such experiences. Immersive experience can move people into fluid realities without having them change their surroundings or themselves moving at all. It can create a user experience that can captivate the user and immerse them into a virtual world by appealing to the user’s sense of touch, sound, and sight. An immersive experience has the ability to create a compelling sense of presence. It blends in virtual reality within fiction and gives the user a sense of it ‘being there.'
What is an Immersive experience?
Immersive experiences are a growing field within the web design realm that enables people to be completely absorbed while bringing more inclusivity, precision, and personalization to traditional user experience design. The importance of immersive experience continues to increase in nearly every product category. The focus is on building enhanced experiences that are based on combining the use of extended realities (XR) or individual realities.
Immersive experiences are designed through a story-driven approach wherein designers simultaneously create virtual and dimensional environments and all that it contains. These digital experiences consist of images, processes, events, products, services, and environments as well as omnichannel journeys.
"The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come”.
— Steve Jobs
Designers create immersive experiences to deal with virtual and multi-dimensional environments within a time-based portrayal and story narrative. The focus is on building completely user-centered experiences to engage people in experiential, detailed products with distinct environments.
Ways of Creating an Immersive Experience
An immersive experience is created through artificial means that involve enhanced use of sight, sound, and touch. The experiences that we are trying to explain here could be clubbed as extended reality (XR) which includes VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), MR (mixed reality), Immersive Audio, Immersive Video, and Immersive Audio-Visual experiences.
Virtual Reality —Consists of an artificial world that is non-existent and a person can completely immerse themselves as a participant and observer. VR systems consist of software and technical devices that aid in creating an illusion of being a part of the artificial world, sometimes allowing manipulation of objects too.
Augmented Reality — Integrates two initially separate spaces: the world of real items around us and the virtual world recreated on a computer, in a controlled way. The superimposing of programmable virtual objects on top of the camera's video data creates an immersive interactive environment. AR has particularly been used in the military, healthcare, advertising and gaming technologies.
Mixed Reality — This is the hybrid model of worldly insight that combines both the real and virtual worlds. It helps in creating interactive environments that consist of the full inclusion of virtual items into reality.
360° Content — Helps the person interacting with the picture/video to explore it in every direction at the sameemerging-immersive-experiences time and allows the person to rotate the angle being viewed to see all that is around while interacting with the picture or video.
Types of Immersive Experiences
Understanding the world around us through a virtual spectrum can be a delight in itself. Being immersed in a reality that is designed to provide a realistic experience within a digitised environment creates a holistic experience for the user. Immersive experiences that make use of sight, sound, and touch can well be explained as -
Visual Immersion — Often special techniques are employed in moving pictures to help the viewer experience a perceived cinematic world as if were real, erasing the separating factor between the virtual and physical space. Visual Immersion is also used for people within the Autism spectrum to help them perceive images and actions better.
Audio Immersion — Also known as Immersive Sound provides heightened audible experiences through designed 3D effects for the user. It is a multi-dimensional approach of audio-based storytelling that immerses the listener within a sound system that is different from a traditional approach.
Immersion as the future of UX
The realm of immersive experiences is expanding. For designers, the idea is to create experiences that are people-first, which means as people spend more and more time online, designers should strategise, design, and build relaxing virtual escapes and protect them from the pitfalls of spending too much time online
Immersive design enables people to experience a reality where the explicit line between reality and virtual reality is blurred. Stepping into designing for the immersive world is to ensure that content isn’t confined within the boundaries of a screen. The focus should be on designing and engineering enhanced experiences that combine the use of visual and audio immersion. The result of this would enable the user to be immersed in unique, customised journeys. However, despite the immersive experiences being conceptualised, designers should ensure there is no compromise on the content being delivered. The focus should be on providing holistic designs that are able to create a captivating presence. It will help in blending reality with fiction and give the audience a feeling of the real world, within a virtual realm.
Immersive design and experiences that come out are all about creating stories within a digitised environment that gives a realistic feel to them. UX designers looking to create great immersive experiences put adequate research, storyboarding, prototyping, testing, and iterating before reaching conclusive ideas that ensure a great overall virtual storytelling experience for the user.
For UX designers, creating immersive experiences is quite similar to any other interactive process, wherein the focus is on providing an experience that is both responsible and ethical. This ensures people are able to engage and interact with the product while learning and being entertained. This holistic experience is built through the creation of a digitised realm that gives the person an experience of reality but virtually.