What does fully immersive mean

What is immersion

In connection with virtual reality, the term “immersion” is often used, which can also be used to describe features of 360-degree videos and virtual tours. The following article should therefore provide information about what is under Immersion is to be understood and why our content is particularly immersive.

Immersion is the immersion in the content of a medium in which fiction is accepted. © Der_Typ_von_nebenan / pixabay.de

Mental immersion vs. physical immersion

The term immersion describes the immersion in the contents of a medium. It can be induced both mentally and physically, which is why a distinction should first be made here:

Mental immersion

The mental immersion Most certainly know from personal experiences, because it arises when a recipient puts himself deeply into an action and mentally immerses himself in it. For example, we experience it when we read an exciting book or when we watch a captivating film. It describes a state in which the user feels a deep commitment, is highly involved and is ready to accept fiction (“suspension of disbelief”).

Physical immersion

The immersion in 360-degree media and also in virtual reality (for a more precise differentiation of the two terms, we recommend the article Are 360-degree videos virtual reality?) Can go further and not only take place mentally, but also physically, which then as physical immersion referred to as. A high level of physical immersion arises when input and output devices are used that address as many of the user's senses as possible in a real way. For example, the HMDs (head-mounted displays, also known colloquially as VR glasses; you can find out more about the development of virtual reality), which is typical for virtual reality, support a high level of physical immersion, as they mask reality and ensure that the user - regardless of where he is looking - only perceives the virtual world. Gloves with haptic feedback, tracking treadmills and other input and output devices increase physical immersion, which in turn has a positive effect on mental immersion.

Immersion and Presence

The term “immersion” is also often used in connection with immersion presence is used, which describes the subjective feeling of the user to actually be within a virtual world. Depending on the degree of presence, the viewer perceives the environment as more or less real. This subjective sense of presence can be achieved by mentally immersing the person in the environment and can be intensified through a high degree of physical immersion.

What is immersion © Vertex / pixabay.de

The feeling of presence can be evoked by an illusion of location, an illusion of plausibility and the involvement of the user.

The Location illusion (Eng. "place illusion") the feeling of the user to be in a different place, although he knows that he is there only virtually and not actually. It is primarily supported by (physically) immersive output devices and promoted in particular by the three-dimensional presentation technology and the user-centered view. An illusion of location can arise, for example, with our virtual reality tours, which give the user the feeling of actually being at the location shown.

The Plausibility illusion (English "plausibility illusion") describes the fact that the events of the simulated environment are perceived as if they really happened (despite the certainty that they only take place in a virtual environment). In contrast to the illusion of location, which is essentially caused by the manner of presentation, the illusion of plausibility is based on the content of the simulated world. The credibility of the virtual environment seems to be more important than the sensory realism, for example a perfectly virtually modeled person, who can only communicate in stupid phrases, could lead to a break in this plausibility illusion. This break is also referred to as a “break in presense” and can take place in the case of both the location and the plausibility illusion, in that the environment does not react as the user expects.

The Involvement (Eng. “involvement”) of the user refers to the degree of attention or interest in the simulated world. Similar to the plausibility illusion, involvement is mainly caused by the content of the virtual world. For example, due to a convincing illusion of the location, a user could get the feeling of being in the virtual location, but still be bored and only slightly involved, which results in only a slight sense of presence. On the other hand, a user could be highly involved due to the content and thus mentally immersed, although due to a lack of spatial illusion the sense of presence may still be missing.

Immersive Marketing

While mental immersion and presence can be viewed as psychological phenomena, physical immersion can be understood as a technical and / or physical phenomenon, as the senses are addressed via physical stimuli through the use of technology. Here you can find out more about the effects of immersive marketing.

The following figure should finally summarize the terms around the topic of immersion:

The interplay of mental immersion, physical immersion and presence. © Kiani / Berger (2017)


  • Sherman, William R. / Craig, Alan B. (2003): Understanding Virtual Reality. INTERFACE, APPLICATION AND DESIGN. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco.
  • Dörner, Ralf / Broll, Wolfgang / Grimm, Paul / Jung, Bernhard (eds.): Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR / AR). Basics and methods of virtual and augmented reality. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  • Slater, Mel / Wilbur, Sylvia (1997): A framework for immersive virtual environments (FIVE): speculations on the role of presence in virtual environments. In: Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments. 6 (6), MIT Press, Cambridge. Pp. 603-616.