Ever wondered what all those techie words and acronyms actual mean?... well you're in the right place to find out! We have an extensive list of the most common tech words used in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
When Standalone (also referred as 'Untethered') is referenced in Virtual Reality - it simply means headsets that are free from wires, so don't require being physically attach to a PC. The Oculus Quest and Quest 2 are perfect examples of standalone headsets, as is the DecaGear 1. Examples of a tethered headset (attached to a PC), would be the Valve Index and Oculus Rift S.
Standalone headsets are often preferred to the tethered kind because it gives the user more freedom to move in their environment without the restriction of wires.
Untethered headsets are standalone devices - they are completely wireless. Though they aren’t yet as powerful as tethered head-mounted displays (HMDs), they do allow for greater freedom of movement. The Oculus Quest is an untethered headset.
A headset is tethered when it needs to be connected to a powerful gaming computer to work. They often use external sensors for tracking. The Valve Index is a tethered headset.
Stitching is the process of editing together videos with different perspectives of the same area to create a 3D, or panoramic image.
More commonly known as ‘lag’, latency is the irritating gap between a player taking action and a server responding - a persistent issue for fast-paced, online co-op games.
Having spatial awareness means that you are aware of your position relative to your surroundings.
Using motion sickness to describe the unfortunately common wooziness that can come with playing VR is a bit of a misnomer, since it’s only caused by the perception of movement. More accurately, VR sickness can occur when the refresh rate on your display is too low, or when the movement you’re seeing through your headset doesn’t correspond to the movement that your inner ear is detecting. To take an extreme example: if you’re riding a roller coaster in VR, but are sitting still in real life, your inner ear will notice the discrepancy and may prompt some motion sickness.
This is a nifty feature introduced by the Oculus Rift S and Quest which lets you see a portion of the real world around you. It’s ideal for particularly hectic sessions; stopping you from blundering into your furniture or unsuspecting housemates. It can be triggered manually, or automatically when you step outside the bounds of your playing zone.
Successful head tracking allows a headset to determine not only your head’s rotation, as you look side to side or up or down, but also pinpoints your head’s movement in space. This allows you to duck and lean in VR. For more, see position tracking/positional tracking.
A headset with eye tracking does exactly what it says on the tin. Tracking your eye movement is important as it opens up new doors for VR outside of gaming. For example, it could make for a more realistic telepresence, enabling realistic eye contact between avatars. Effective eye tracking can also make for crisper VR images with lower processing power, by only rendering the aspects of a scene that you’re looking at in high resolution. This reflects what our eyes already do naturally: we see most clearly in the centre of our FOV, while the periphery of our vision is blurry.
This can refer to a variety of issues with headsets: in regards to the lenses themselves, the blind spot could be an area outside of the display, or a part of the display which can’t be easily seen by the human eye. Or, it could refer to issues with motion tracking in positions where your movements can’t be detected. For example, if your head is turned away and you are making hand gestures outside of the sensors’ FOV.
This term can be a little misleconfusing, since it relates not to the length of the headset lens, but to the distance in millimetres from the point where rays of light converge at the back of the lens to the front, which creates the image you then see. This number directly affects the FOV and how magnified objects on screen are. A pair of lenses with a lower focal length will have a narrower FOV and higher magnification, and vice versa.
Currently, many manufacturers offer headsets with a fixed focal length - which means that virtual objects are clearest only at a certain distance: about an arm’s length away. This can cause eye strain when looking at things close up, or from a great distance, which has spurred development into varifocal lenses.
The IPD, or interpupillary distance is exactly what it sounds like: the distance in millimetres from the centre of one pupil to the other. Outside of the VR world, your optician will measure this with a ruler during an eye test.Knowing your IPD is important when using a VR headset. The lenses can be moved, either manually or using special software, to match your IPD. This reduces eye strain, shadowing and distortion. Just think of how you would use a pair of binoculars: the two lenses can be pivoted around a central point, allowing you to match the lenses up with the centre of your eyes.
When an object is free to move in a 3D space, it has six degrees of freedom. This means it can move back and forth, up and down, and left to right across three perpendicular axes. In simple terms, a VR headset that allows for 6DOF will track your head movement in any direction.
A graphics processing unit is a piece of circuitry that speeds up the development of images in a portion of your computer’s RAM so that they can be viewed on a display, whether that be a computer monitor or your headset. If your GPU isn’t powerful enough, this will lead to lagging and lower-quality graphics.
VR is an acronym for Virtual Reality. It's a bit of a mouthful, so many simply refer to it as VR, now that was easy! But what about VR and what the hell is it! Good question. In a nutshell, virtual reality is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world in which we live. There are many applications of virtual reality, gaming being the most popular. VR is also used for educational purposes, such as in medical, mechanical and military training. Other unique types of VR style technology include augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR).
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