The Ultimate Extended Reality (XR) Glossary

Do you know all the terminology in our Ultimate Extended Reality (XR) Glossary?


At TVRLP, our knowledge and expertise in Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality technology doesn’t come without new words and phrases coming from every direction. We’ve put together a handy glossary of some of the most important words and phrases in the extended reality industry that we think you should be familiar with before you enter the big wide world of XR. Wether you want to know the ins and outs for yourself or if you want to work in the sector, this list is a great place to start. We’re always looking to expand our list with new terminology to stay on top of our game so if you have any suggestions, then DM us on Twitter, or drop us an email.


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360 Experience

A 360 experience is a broad term which includes photos, videos and live streaming in 360° surroundings.

360 Live Streaming

This is a form of 360° video which is live. Typically, audiences can interact with the live streamer through likes, comments and reactions. Currently, Facebook, YouTube and Periscope have functionality for 360 live streaming.

360 Panorama

A 360 panorama is a type of 360 photo which can only rotate along the x-axis and is stitched together at the ends. Many phone cameras have built in functionality for 360 panoramas, as well as the Facebook and Cardboard Camera apps.

360 Photo

360 photos or images are snapshots which can be viewed in all directions. These can only be captured through 360 cameras.

360 Video

360 videos must be captured with 360 cameras as all directions must be shot simultaneously. Currently platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo has functionality for 360 videos.

3D Audio

This is a type of audio which changes, in pitch, amplitude, etc, when a user, or experiencer, moves their head. 3D, or 360 audio, is prevalent in VR to give a more realistic and immersive experience.


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All-in-One (Standalone) Headset

This is a type a headset, typically for VR, but it could be AR or MR, which doesn’t need to be tethered to a computer for it to be powered. The term all-in-one comes from all hardware being contained in one device. Google has a new Daydream Standalone VR headset coming soon.


ARCore is the Android AR developer toolkit, used to create different applications with AR. It has 3 main functionalities while using the devices camera: motion tracking, environmental understanding and light estimation.


ARKit is the iOS AR developer toolkit, used to create different applications with AR. It is the largest AR platform in the world and ARKit 2 will be available on iOS 12.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality (AR) is the technology which overlays digital information into the real world. Most modern smartphones have AR capabilities and it has been popularised by apps like Pokémon Go, Snapchat and Facebook.


An avatar is a digital representation of the user, typically in a game or experience. Sometimes the avatar can be customisable, like Bitmoji.


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Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE)

A Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) is a VR room where users can experience VR, without wearing an HMD, and instead have visuals of the environment projected on the walls around them.

Computer Generated Virtual Reality (CGVR)

Computer Generated Virtual Reality (CGVR), like computer generated images (CGI), is the process of using computers, instead of cameras to generate Virtual Reality experiences. Naturally, this excludes 360 videos, images, etc, from being included, as they are not computer generated.

Computer Aided Design (CAD)

Computer aided design is a type of software to design, edit and analyse 2D and 3D creations on a computer. There are many free and paid pieces of CAD software.


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Data/Wired Glove

A data glove is a series of sensors which can be worn on the hand like a glove which measures intricate movements on a computer. Movements which data gloves gather can be used to recreate realistic animations and more.

Duck Test

This is the name of the test to measure how realistic Virtual Reality is. People are more likely to duck when someone flies towards the experiencer if the VR experience is realistic, or the sense of presence is high.


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These are the names given to the person who is in a VR/AR/MR/XR experience.

Extended Reality (XR)

Extended Reality (XR) is a blanket term incorporating Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

Eye Tracking

This is a type of technology found in some HMD’s which tracks a user’s eye movement.


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Field of View (FOV)

The field of view is the observable environment inside of a HMD. In other words, the FOV is the area of your sight which can view the screen inside a headset. The wider the field of view, the higher the feeling of immersion or presence.

Foveated Rendering

This is a type of graphics rendering in a VR headset which uses eye tracking to render only what the user is looking at during that moment in time, leaving everything in the user’s peripheral vision pixelated or blurred. This allows more of the computers processing power to be used for rendering what is only being looked at.


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Gaze-Activated Content

Gaze activated content is commonly found on mobile VR where users may not have a controller. It allows users to interact with content by simply looking at a specific area for a fixed amount of time.

GL Transmission Format (gITF)

This is a 3D model file type which can work cross-platform. It compresses the file size and minimises runtime processing.


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Haptics is a touch sense technology which allows a user to feel sensations generated by a computer. In terms of VR, haptic technology adds another layer of presence to the users experience by allowing them to feel virtual objects. HaptX has developed a haptic glove with over “100 points of high-displacement tactile feedback”. This allows users to feel different sensations in conjunction with HTC Vive.

Head Mounted Display (HMD)/Headset/Goggles

A head mounted display (HMD), otherwise known as a headset or goggles, is a piece of hardware used to view VR/AR/MR content. Typically, it is strapped to the user’s head to give a hands-free approach though this is not always the case, as can be seen with many cardboard headsets.

Head Tracking

Head Tracking follows the movements of the user’s head so that virtual environments and content can adapt naturally.

Head-Up Display (HUD)

This is a type of transparent display which shows information to a user without being intrusive or distracting. HUDs can currently be found in things like fighter pilot helmets and some in-car satnavs.


A heatmap, in terms of VR, is an analytics tool which tracks where a user looks and doesn’t look in a virtual environment or experience. The more time a user spends looking at, or interacting with a certain element, the hotter it will appear.


A hotspot is an interactive element which provides the user with additional information of options. Hotspots can be activated by VR controllers, gaze-activation or proximity/touch, depending on the platform.

HTC Vive

The Vive is an VR HMD by HTC. The first consumer HTC Vive was released 5th April 2016 and since then many accessories have been released including controllers, audio headsets and “trackers”- for developers. On 5th April 2018, HTC started selling their upgraded Vive Pro version.


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When a user is immersed in a virtual environment or experience, they are surrounded by it with as little interaction from the real world as possible. A sense of presence can be achieved through complete immersion.

Immersive Reality (IR)

Immersive reality (IR) is another term meaning the same as XR, though it refers more specifically to technology which integrates with less disruption/distraction to a user’s experience and immerses them more into the environment.

Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)

This is a tracking system which measures motion through a collection of self-contained gyroscopes and accelerometers. IMUs can be found in things like planes, ships and spacecraft, and now in VR devices like HMDs and controllers.


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Latency is the word given to time difference between a user’s head motion and the motion of the content displayed on an HMD. Colloquially, this would be called “lag”.

Light Field Technology

This is an optical technology which allows holograms in AR to appear to be at varying distances away from the user. This technology is currently being used by companies like Magic Leap.


This refers to the different methods an experiencer can use to move while in Virtual Reality. There are currently 3 main types of movement in VR: Perambulation, Teleportation and Transportation.


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Mesh is the visual illustration of space mapped of by a computer. Mesh is displayed in MR when mapping an environment and it’s shown as a selection of points linked with lines.

Mixed Reality (MR)

Mixed Reality is the combination of the real and digital world. Unlike AR which overlays information, MR merges with the real world meaning a digital object can disappear behind solid objects or solid objects could have a different appearance.

Mobile (Carboard) Headset

These are cheap (as low as £5) VR headsets which a smart phone slots inside of. The phone can run VR applications downloaded from the Play Store or App Store. The HMD is made of either cardboard or plastic, has some form of strap to hold the smart phone in place and contains 2 lenses to view the phone screen in Virtual Reality.


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Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift is a VR HMD which was first released 28th March 2016 although many developer kits come out prior. Oculus VR was purchased by Facebook in March 2014 for $2bn. Many accessories exist for the Oculus Rift including controllers, headphones and remotes.


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Perambulation (Locomotion)

This is a way of moving in Virtual Reality where the user’s avatar mimics real life movements like walking, running, crawling, etc. This is usually done in a room-scale environment meaning the user physically walks, ducks, etc. around the room but it can also include the use of joysticks / analogue sticks as the in-game movement still is perceived as natural.

Positional Sensor

HMDs like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive come with external positional sensors which track a user’s position in relation to a room (Room-Scale positioning).


Presence is a feeling which a user of Virtual Reality can get when VR is so immersive that the user “forgets” they are inside a Virtual Reality experience. Latency can have a big effect on presence, as well as immersion (for example, if light from physical reality can get inside the HMD). The Duck Test is a good way to measure presence.


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Real Life (RL)

This is the real, physical life around us in the world (not digital).


A reticle is a marker, often a dot, in the centre of a user’s vision, used to pin point exactly where they are looking. This is useful for any gaze activated content.


A room scale environment allows a user or experiencer to move about freely in a room space when using VR. Often, when a user gets too close to a wall or object, an in-game marker appears to let them know. This is a feature on the HTC Vive thanks to their positional sensor.


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The six-degrees-of-freedom are the 6 ways in which an HMD can be tracked. The six degrees are: Yaw (left and right head motion), Pitch (backwards and forwards head motion), Roll (circular head motion), left/right (within space), backwards/forwards (within space) and up/down (within space).

Spatial Mapping

This is a type of mapping which registers all solids in the area and creates a detailed representation around the user by layering mesh over the top. This is vital in MR for the merging of the real and virtual worlds.

Spherical Panorama

A sphere panorama, sometimes known as a tiny planet picture is a flattened 360 photo taken with a 360 camera.


Stitching is the process of joining together 2 halves of a 360 photo or video, or by joining together the ends of a panoramic photo.

Surface Detection

This is the process of mapping out a surface (this could be a table, floor, etc) for AR, so that a 3D model can be placed.


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Teleportation (Locomotion)

This is a way of moving in Virtual Reality where a user is transported from one point to another instead of getting there by natural movements, for example, walking.


This is a type of Augmented Reality where a picture or video is drawn on top of. Telestration can be seen in apps like Facebook and Snapchat, and it is also used commonly in the sporting industry to analyse gameplay.

Tethered Headset (PC Powered Headset)

A tethered, or PC powered, headset is a type of HMD which requires a computer to operate. Common examples of these are the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Transportation (Locomotion)

This is a way of moving in Virtual Reality where a user is moved automatically, usually by a vehicle. Users sit or stand still but can still control their actions through limb and head movement.


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Unity 3D

Unity is a video game engine often used in the creation of VR.


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Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality immerses a user in a solely digital world, with the use of a head mounted display. VR can give the user a feeling of presence when the VR experience quality is high.

Virtual Reality Sickness

VR sickness, or motion sickness, can occur while using virtual reality, especially when latency is high.

VR Marketing

VR marketing uses technology which is available in a target audiences day to day life, usually video platforms and social media. This can, but doesn’t necessarily have to include 360 photos, 360 videos, 360 live streaming, 360 advertising and bespoke brand experiences.


Vuforia is an AR engine used to develop augmented reality applications for Android, iOS and a wide variety of AR headsets.


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WebVR is an open platform making it possible for users to experience VR through internet browsers and a range of VR headsets including Google Cardboard, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR and Google Daydream.