VR UX: Common Terms

It's easy to get lost in the terminology of VR. In this episode, we define some of the common terms you’ll run into while developing your VR experience.

I'm Seth Schneider, and this is VR:UX. In this episode, we'll define some common terms you'll run into while developing your VR experience. First, there is XR. This is a blanket term commonly used referred to not only VR, but also AR and MR, and any other form of modified reality. X is just a variable or a placeholder.

VR stands for virtual reality, where you have a virtual environment with virtual objects. For example, playing a VR game in a headset where everything you can see is part of the virtual world. MR means mixed reality where you have a virtual environment with real objects. For example, recording someone in VR using a green screen to show them in the virtual environment.

Augmented reality or AR is where you have a real environment with virtual objects. For example, using your phone's camera in a game that lets you see and capture virtual creatures. And HMD or Head Mounted Display is the headset that allows you to enter a virtual space. 6DOF or six degrees of freedom means that you cannot only look around your virtual environment, but you can also move. This requires that the VR system track the position and orientation of your HMD.

Being able to move around in your virtual environment takes the experience from three degrees of freedom to six degrees of freedom. Speaking of tracking, there are two main tracking methods. The first is inside out tracking. It uses sensors and cameras on your HMD to track your head position, orientation, and sometimes hands. The second is outside in tracking. This uses sensors in your play space to track your HMD position, orientation, and hands from the outside.

Guarding walls, chaperons, or safety grids communicate the boundaries of the play space to the user. These usually take the shape of a grid that appears to remind the user to stay inside the defined play space, so that they don't hit walls or other objects in the real world. 360 video, also known as spherical or immersive video, is shot with omnidirectional cameras. These videos are recorded with a 360 degree field of view, which allows the viewers to look in any direction, giving them a sense of immersion. 360 videos are 3DOF, designed to be viewed from a single location without the ability to move.

Volumetric capture refers to not only capturing video, but also a 3D mapping of a volume of space, along with the objects in it. This allows one to move their perspective inside the space. Stereoscopic video shows each of your eyes what you would see in real life with parallax separation of cameras to account for the distance between your eyes.

Keep in mind that many of these terms have and will continue to evolve over time. They are defined by norms and are based on the current understanding of virtual worlds and development trends. Let us know in a comment if you come across terms you would like us to define. Thanks for watching. Don't forget to like this video and subscribe to the Intel software YouTube channel, and we will see you next week for our final episode of VR:UX.