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XR Tech Glossary

Here are some common terms used to describe XR experiences. Many of these are referenced in XRA’s Guide: Into the Digital World: XRA’s Guide to Immersive Technology.

Accelerometer: A device that measures inert acceleration due to gravity. They are used to tell XR devices, and other consumer electronics like smartphones, which way is up or down.

Degrees of Freedom (DoF): DoF describes how a user can move in a virtual space. There are two DoF classifications:

3DoF (Three Degrees of Freedom): With 3DoF, users are stationary. They can look left and right, up and down, and pivot left and right, but they cannot move throughout the virtual space. Additionally, users can interact with the environment via gaze control or a laser pointer controller.

6DoF (Six Degrees of Freedom): With 6DoF, users retain the three types of movement that 3DoF enables and gain more movement freedom. They can move forward and backward, up and down, and right and left. Users can observe and interact with objects placed in the environment, just like they would in real life.

Foveated Rendering: A technique used in virtual reality headsets that reduces the image quality in the wearer’s peripheral vision and prioritizes high-quality image rendering for the wearer’s central focus. This technique makes hardware utilization more efficient. Importantly, it can also help reduce and make an immersive experience feel more real.

Gyroscope: A device that measures rotational movements relative to a neutral position to help determine the orientation of a display. They are used in everything from smartphones to VR headsets.

Haptic: The use of technology that stimulates the senses of touch and motion, especially to reproduce in remote operation or computer simulation the sensations that would be felt by a user interacting directly with physical objects.

Hologram: A physical structure resulting from the diffraction of light to create multiple wavefronts, which together assemble to create a 3D simulation of an object. Holograms can be used to project any visual image through an AR headset. In some cases, the wearer can interact with the hologram.

Magnetometer: An instrument used to detect a magnetic field. They can help detect speed and direction and are used in XR devices to track the movement of the wearer.

Spatial audio: Audio effects that enable you to hear 3D audio through the virtual placement of sound above, below, behind, or next to the listener. Spatial audio provides a more realistic experience for individuals in fully immersive environments.