Not everyone is on the same page with VR terms. While some acronyms and words are intuitive, others are more obscure and require some explanations. Thus, we prepared for you this glossary which, we hope, will help you understand 100% of the information we share in our articles.
How We Prepared the Glossary of VR Terms
We compiled a list of frequently used terms that are most likely to appear in:
- VR head-mounted display specifications;
- Game descriptions;
- Articles about VR technology;
- Instructions for setting up your computer for VR experiences.
Without any further introduction, let’s get started.
The aspect ratio of an image represents the ratio of the width to its height. It is represented by two numbers separated by a colon, for instance 4:3, 16:9, etc.
This is one of the VR terms you will most likely find in games, but also in enterprise software suites. An avatar is the 3D representation of the user in the virtual world. For instance, the game character you use to play is your avatar.
Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE)
This is a virtual reality environment, delimited by 3 to 6 walls. To create the VR environment, projectors display the elements of the world on the walls. The user controls the elements of a CAVE with their movements.
A computer-based headset is wearable hardware which the user puts over the head, connected to a computer that runs the VR software and sends the audio/visual information to the headset.
Degrees of Freedom (DoF)
The DoF represents the various degrees of movement of an object in a virtual environment. In VR, users have two levels of degrees of freedom. 3DoF allows tracking of rotational movement, i.e. pitch, yaw, and roll. More specifically, that means users can turn the head left or right, tilt it up or down, or pivot left and right.
In 6DoF, users can perform more complex movements, meaning aside from rotational motions, translational motions are also trackable. These include moving forward, backward, laterally, or vertically.
This is one of the most important aspects for realistic VR experiences. It represents the lighting of various elements in real time, allowing shadows to move together with the user, just like in real life.
This is one of the VR terms that refers to the connection between the real world and the virtual world. Users can become aware of the existence of their real body by looking down or using peripheral vision to see parts of their body. Some users need to do that to maintain a balance between the real and the VR worlds.
This is a technology used by head-mounted displays (HMD) to determine the position of the user’s eyes versus their head. Many hands-free VR experiences use eye tracking to trigger actions in the virtual world.
Field of View (FOV)
Among other technical VR terms, this is one you should pay attention to when shopping for VR headsets. The field of view indicates the total number of degrees visible to the user from any point of reference. The field of view of the human eye is around 200 degrees. Most HMDs have a FOV of up to around 100, though there are some headsets, such as StarVR, with 210-degree horizontal and 130-degree vertical FOV.
This technology allows faster loading of VR experiences. The HMD uses eye tracking to render what the user looks at directly in high quality, while peripheral visuals are rendered in lower quality.
Gesture is any movement of the head or the hands that causes something to happen in the virtual world.
Belonging to the group of technical VR terms, haptics means the simulation of touch by giving the user the sensation of pressure. It is most frequently delivered through specialized gloves, used in VR games and software where interaction with objects is critical for the experience.
Head Mounted Display (HMD)
HMD represents a set of goggles or a helmet that covers the eyes and ears to deliver the visual and audio elements of the VR experience in a three-dimensional manner.
Latency represents the time delay between the input of the user and the realization of the action in the virtual world. Advanced VR games and apps have a very low latency, almost imperceptible to the user.
This is one of the VR terms coined to give a definition to the virtual world. It represents the collective virtual worlds created, experienced and shared by users.
The refresh rate indicates the speed of updating images in the HMD as the user interacts with the VR elements. A high refresh rate means reduced lag and a more realistic experience.
Virtual Reality Sickness
This is a form of motion sickness some users experience in the VR environment. It is caused by the discrepancy between what the brain perceives the user as doing through the HMD and the actual movements of the body. It manifests by disorientation, fatigue, drowsiness and vomiting. Users are advised to stop using the HMD as soon as they feel any of these symptoms.
This is one of the latest technologies, which aim at delivering VR experiences within a web browser. At the moment, the technology is in the work in progress phase.