VR-Girl-iPad-3d-WallpaperPRESENCE is the uncanny sensation, in fact a FEELING, that you are actually in another place and time… and possibly another physical reality… even though factually and logically, you know that your body is wired into a rig and that you are actually sitting on a chair, in an enclosed room with electricity.

This Presece sensation can be contrasted with mere “immersion”, as one might experience in an IMAX 3D or similar theatrical environment. In these places, one might witness a 3d video of a roller coaster filmed in first person… they might think “Wow, this is almost like really being on the roller coaster”… but in the end, its more like a window into someone elses experience. With presence, there is no window, no filter… one is simply… THERE.

The key components of Presence are:

  • first person perspective (1Pp)  — all action, and interaction, is represented as being seen, and shot, from the eyes of the Player… that is to say, YOU.
  • wide field of view (FoV) — an ability to perceive things on the periphery of ones visual field.
  • 3d positional audio — an ability to hear things from all around, accurately positioned in space.
  • 3d freedom of movement — the ability to accurately explore, both visually and auditorally, the surrounding environment, at any time during the experience… via both looking all around, and actual translational movement of the players head through physical space, mapped directly to virtual world space.

Here, Michael Abrash explains the future of VR in just 59 words:

As with any system, there are also upgrades available, in the form of both software and hardware, to enhance one’s sense of realism and depth of experience:

  • 3d Interaction / Agency : the ability to physically interact with the virtual environment, utilizing a variety of input methods : voice, directional eye gaze, hand movement, gesture, and/or body language
  • Haptics :  methods of sending tactile information back to the user when their avatars collide with virtual objects or friction : a simple vibration on the body or hand is generally enough to trigger a deep reptilian brainstem response that is a decent simulacra for physical collisions in reality. In the videogame world, these are referred to as “force feedback” peripherals.
  • Simulation Rigs : purpose-built rigs that are designed for specific styles of play. Examples are race-car steering wheels and pedals, airplane cockpits, and avain flight platforms. These specialised platforms enhance the VR experience by giving the user complex physical interfaces that precisely replicate those in the real world.

The EXPERIENCE of presence,
is, quite simply, that you are THERE.


Still don’t get it?

> Witness a VR virgin experience her first moment of Presence.

> for engineers: the technical requirements to achieve presence

2 thoughts on “Defining Presence :
Beyond Immersion

  1. I am totally aware of this sensation of being there and while in the past it required a suspension of disbelief and some imagination to ‘get inside’ the flat 3D image on a screen – The Oculus Rift frees up that energy for the pure experiential enjoyment of a new set and setting from a truly unique ‘being there’ perspective. Looking even at a current advertisement for a large screen HDTV is starting to look almost retrospective of an earlier time, much like Life Magazine advertisements one might have seen in the 50s. The DK2 at 960 is quite remarkable let alone some of the resolutions we are hearing about!

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