Levels of immersion in VR systems

In a virtual environment system a computer generates sensory impressions that are delivered to the human senses. The type and the quality of these impressions determine the level of immersion and the feeling of presence in VR. Ideally the high-resolution, high-quality and consistent over all the displays, information should be presented to all of the user’s senses. Moreover, the environment itself should react realistically to the user’s actions. The practice, however, is very different from this ideal case. Many applications stimulate only one or a few of the senses, very often with low-quality and unsynchronized information. We can group the VR systems accordingly to the level of immersion they offer to the user.

  1. Desktop VR – sometimes called Window on World (WoW) systems. This is the simplest type of virtual reality applications. It uses a conventional monitor to display the image (generally monoscopic) of the world. No other sensory output is supported.
  2. Fish Tank VR – improved version of Desktop VR. These systems support head tracking and therefore improve the feeling of “of being there” thanks to the motion parallax effect. They still use a conventional monitor (very often with LCD shutter glasses for stereoscopic viewing) but generally do not support sensory output.
  3. Immersive systems – the ultimate version of VR systems. They let the user totally immerse in computer generated world with the help of HMD that supports a stereoscopic view of the scene accordingly to the user’s position and orientation. These systems may be enhanced by audio, haptic and sensory interfaces.
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