What is Immersive Design?

What is immersive design

Pay attention!

Ever wondered what “paying” meant in this context?

And why attention?

Is it so valuable that it is a currency that can be paid?

Is it finite or infinite?

All action is directly related to attention. Either we act while being attentive or we act involuntarily without paying attention. Daniel Kahneman illustrates this beautifully in his book slow and fast thinking. A business tries to influence both these streams of thought, either by posturing as an intended solution to a problem or by compelling you into impulse purchases, at the end of which sometimes we do wonder why did I buy this in the first place?

Someone famously said when everything is free, you are the product. Specifically, it’s your attention that is the product. It’s all about guiding your thoughts into that final purchase! The other parallel is the influx of technology into our everyday lives. This promise of technology augmentation was time savings, which means now we can do more with less. And we do, do more with less. Today we expect things to be snappy, quick, and in an instant so that we can continue to do more with less. It is the era of short attention spans.

Businesses are aware of this. If something doesn’t “Catch” your attention immediately, it will be forgotten and cast into the abyss of ignorance.

That’s where immersion comes into the picture.

What is Immersive Design?

The word immersion originates from the late Latin “Immergere” which means dip into. Immersion and attention are closely related. Think about this, while I dip you into something, where will your attention escape to? Food for thought!

Immersive Design as a field is very young.

From Wikipedia

Alex McDowell coined the phrase ‘immersive design’ in 2007 to frame a discussion around a design discipline that addresses story-based media within the context of digital and virtual technologies.[3][4] Together McDowell and museum director Chris Scoates co-directed 5D | The Future of Immersive Design conference in Long Beach in 2008, laying some groundwork for immersive design to be a distinct design philosophy.

Immersive design encompasses a range of interactions that leads users to be fully absorbed into an experience. It commonly uses techniques of VR, AR, and MR to create the illusion that the user is physically interacting with a real digital atmosphere. The value creation of Immersive Design is easily apparent. Think about not having to invest in giant machinery for training purposes, think about being able to remotely guide maintenance work through the use of AR, or even provide a product demo from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world.

At ARi

At ARi, our journey into immersive design experiences has been recent. As part of the Digital Transformation group, the foundations of this design approach have been laid for the creation of a smart worker and a smart factory. Leveraging various approaches of Immersive Design, we look to solve business problems at different levels to deliver meaningful value. The Immersive Design interventions are centered around training and maintenance applications for now and more are in the works.

Progression of Immersive

The world of design has two major pillars, automotive and architecture. These have heavily lent their learnings to products and now digital interfaces. The advent of new immersive design technologies has also seen this route, starting from automotive visualizations, moving onto real-time renders of spaces, and now into product fit and finish.

Jinsop Lee, a popular industrial designer led the research on design for the 5 senses, where he argues about increasing levels of immersion with the engagement of all 5 senses to varying degrees. While immersive design began with technologies addressing the visual representation of ideas, the next progression is into auditory, smell, and touch (weight). The current research into this space is massive and one can only get excited with the opportunities at hand. Few innovative products addressing these scenarios are already in the market. Google glass, MS Hololens, Occulus Rift, Samsung VR, and HTC Vive are some that could be named.

Need for ethical code for Immersive Design

Amidst all this, one shouldn’t forget the original intent of immersion. Immersive design is essentially an enabler of truth. It is not the truth itself. The intent always needs to be to present details in the highest fidelity to promote an action in the real world that is well-informed. The growing resolution with which immersion has now started to take place could very well one day make it indistinguishable from reality itself. It can, however, never be a substitute for reality and will always be a subset playing a crucial role in augmentation rather than replacement.

Human attention is valuable. Great minds have done great things because they decided to pay attention to greater pursuits. Paying attention is the peak performance for a human being. This would mean that it is a finite currency, I mean one really can’t be at peak performance all the time. Immersive Design is attention design.