The Feeling or Immersion in Location-Based Augmented Reality Setting

Eeva Jäntin tutkimus tarkastelee, kuinka immersiivisiä lisätyn todellisuuden (augmented reality eli AR) kokemuksia voidaan suunnitella, mitä immersio ylipäänsä on ja miten sitä voidaan mitata. AR:ää tarkastellaan City Stories Helsingin tapauksen kautta.

How often do you hear someone using the word immersion or saying that something is immersive? The term is widely used in everyday language and professional discussion, as well as in the academic literature. However, many times it is not defined what is meant by it.

Many researchers have argued that immersion is a natural human state that is not dependent on technology. It can be gained by reading a book, listening to a story or other engrossing activity. It means to be involved physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The predominant definition for immersion in digital game literature is that it is a gradated psychological process that has three levels: Engagement, Engrossment, and Total Immersion. As immersion is mostly seen as a positive thing and something to go after, the research has also developed instruments for measuring it. Several questionnaires have been developed and validated for different uses. One of them is the Augmented Reality Immersion (ARI) Questionnaire that is designed for measuring the feeling of immersion in location-aware AR experiences.

Case: City Stories Helsinki

In the research, ARI Questionnaire was used to measure how immersive is the City Stories pilot. The pilot was produced during winter and spring 2018, and it contained five Augmented Reality stories located around Helsinki. The concept was created by scriptwriter-director Heli Lekka. In the City Stories the stories were brought to the locations where they had happened at. The storytellers appeared virtually to the locations to tell their story.

The primary goal was to find out if the location-based Augmented Reality experience City Stories and similar concepts would be worth developing further mostly from the immersion point of view. In addition to the ARI questionnaire, two open-ended questions were added. The questionnaire was run to participants who watch the AR experience at the location and also to participants who only listened to it at the location. Both answers were positive and also the qualitative information supports the conclusion that the concept is viable and worth developing further.

The future of VR/AR market

The global Virtual and Augmented Reality market is predicted to increase exponentially during the next few years. The development and increasing number of smart devices added to the progress of the high-speed 5G mobile network accelerates the virtual technologies business and opens up new opportunities for streaming media. Along with the new emerging technology also new kinds of content and concepts can be created.

Neuroscientific research could answer the question of is immersion really something to go for and help to find methods and instruments to measure it. The Media Industry would greatly benefit from a tool that measures the immersion levels reliably to recognize how immersive experiences can be designed. But first, the definition of immersion needs to be clarified so that finally everybody would be talking about the same thing.


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Eeva Jäntin tutkimus tarkasteli City Storiesin pilottihanketta. Hanke sekä tutkimus tehtiin yhteistyössä Helsingin kaupungin kanssa.