A word coined by Char Davies to describe one who enters a virtual environment, though it has since been used to describe one who is immersed in any medium, for example someone in a flotation tank, or even a person whose attention is totally absorbed in a work of art. Davies, who is also a painter, creates 'immersive' 3D virtual environments which are explored using a headset and a vest which tracks the immersant's breathing and balance. She explains the word as follows:
"I think it's a good word, we went through a list of about sixty words on
what we should call them: user, participant? I think immersant is suitable
because you are immersed, and it was with the immersive quality that I first
Davies' immersive virtual environments include Osmose and Éphémère, in which immersants explore natural woodland and water landscapes created using the latest graphic technologies. She is the director of visual research at SoftImage, one of the world's leading computer graphic software companies, which was bought by Microsoft in 1994. See discofever's excellent writeup for more information.
Unfortunately the word has also been appropriated by Bowne Global Solutions, one of a long line of companies who have invented cool-sounding words in an attempt to re-brand themselves (see Accenture). Immersant is a division of Bowne, and has possession of the domain name www.immersant.com, which is perhaps why Char Davies has had to use www.immersence.com.
Immersant (the company) "specializes in technically complex, security-conscious Web site consulting and development work rooted in a financial services client base that can be brought to a variety of industries." So now you know.
Home Page: http://www.immersence.com/immersence_home.htm
Bowne Global Solutions
Home Page: http://www.immersant.com
About Immersant (the company): http://www2.software.ibm.com/casestudies/swcsweb.nsf/customername/9B8B8B62B47C2A510025691D001C4935