Reading Response Week 10, Jason Floyer

In this journal, Julie Woletz briefly goes over the history of immersive media, and argues that the value in immersive media lies in the interplay between the recipient and media, as opposed to solely the technology itself. For example, Woletz points out that while we have made increasing efforts to improve our image spaces, we have yet to fully incorporate the body by “enabling kinesthetic action.” I like the fact that Woletz made note of the evolutionary history of immersive media, starting out with frescos and panoramas leading up to the sensorama and modern devices like oculus rift.

Woletz breaks down the degrees of immersion in virtual environments into three categories: non-immersive, semi-immersive, and fully immersive. This made me realize that most of the devices we interact with fall into the first two categories since almost none of them block outside stimuli. Woletz explores an interesting idea saying that the ultimate display would be a room where the computer can control the existence of matter. Only this would accomplish the goal of being fully immersive and interface-less. This reminds me of the training room that Neo and Morpheus used in the Matrix. Since the idea of having this kind of interfaceless room is technologically far away, the challenge for designers is to incorporate as many elements of bodily interaction into virtual environments.

This article makes me wonder about the future of immersive interaction in media. One can assume it will only improve, and I believe that people are starting to realize the value in it. However, it is interesting to see that at least in my mind it has progressed relatively slowly. The use of 3D immersive screens and kinetic inputs have been utilized to some extent by gaming companies but not much in other areas. Like Woletz suggests, I think that an improvement in the interplay between the recipient and the media, and the development of solid kinesthetic controls may be what it takes to make virtual environments more useful.

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