The augmented reality terms you absolutely need to know

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Tom Chatfield


  • Definition of augmented reality (AR):
  • Definition of mixed reality (MR):
  • Definition of virtual reality (VR):
  • Definition of Extended Reality (XR):
  • Definition of a Hologram:
  • Definition of Field of View (FOV):
  • Definition of augmented reality tracking:
  • Definition of GL Transmission Format (glTF):
  • Definition of an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU):
  • Definition of the Light Field:
  • Definition of the mesh in augmented reality (Mesh):
  • Definition of Optical Engine:
  • Definition of localization and simultaneous mapping (SLAM):
  • Definition of Six Degrees of Freedom of Movement (6DoF):
  • Definition of the Development Software Kit (SDK):
  • Definition of Visuo-Inertial Odometry (VIO):
  • Definition of waveguide screens:
  • Definition of Computer Aided Design (CAD):

For beginners, it is often difficult to navigate the jargon of a technology that they discover. Between specific terms, abbreviations and acronyms, it is often difficult to understand the meaning of the explanations given. Also, we offer you a dictionary of terms used in augmented reality to become a real initiate. Here's our guide to the terms you need to know to understand everything about augmented reality.

Definition of augmented reality (AR):

Augmented Reality (AR for Augmented Reality) is a technology that places virtual objects, text or interfaces in the user's field of vision, who then has the feeling that their environment is enriched.. The game Pokémon Go or even Snapchat have popularized augmented reality among the general public thanks to smartphones. In addition to smartphones, augmented reality is also and above all declined through portable glasses which offer much more information and improved immersion. Google Glass were the first augmented reality glasses. Currently, the Hololens glasses developed by Microsoft are the most developed and offer a real interaction. The Magic Leap One glasses are the most anticipated in this year 2018 because announced as revolutionary.

Definition of mixed reality (MR):

Mixed Reality (MR for Mixed Reality) is very close to the definition of augmented reality. Many use either one or the other term to define similar technology. Others believe on the contrary that mixed reality does not apply only when technology allows real user interaction. The term mixed reality generally only applies to headsets or glasses that allow virtual objects to be projected into the user's field of vision and therefore does not apply to augmented reality applications on smartphones.

Definition of virtual reality (VR):

While augmented reality or mixed reality add virtual elements to the user's environment, virtual reality places the user in a totally virtual environment. VR (for Virtual Reality) obscures the user's environment to replace it with a totally virtual environment either from videos or from synthetic images. This is a huge difference. Virtual reality is very immersive and tricks the brain into believing it is living another reality. Augmented reality and mixed reality trick the brain into believing that virtual elements are also present in its environment.

Definition of Extended Reality (XR):

Extended reality is an umbrella term that refers to both augmented reality and virtual reality. The X acting as a variable that substitutes any visual modification of reality. This term is however rarely used by specialists.

Definition of a Hologram:

A hologram is content formed by light projected onto a transparent screen or into an open space. A hologram is typically three-dimensional, often animated, and sometimes accompanied by audio. The holograms used in augmented reality are generally interactive but can also be passive. In augmented reality, holograms are digital content. However, it is possible, through the play of light and mirrors, to project a non-digital hologram.

Definition of Field of View (FOV):

Widely used in virtual reality as in augmented reality, the term Field of View (FOV) represents the extent of the field of view in which the user can view virtual elements with his device. Expressed in degrees because it represents an angle of vision, the Field of Vision makes it possible to know the entire projection range of the augmented reality device.

Definition of augmented reality tracking:

Tracking is a technology that evaluates the movements of the user. Hand tracking allows in particular to interact with holograms. Body and head movement tracking is also used to anchor content to a fixed point that the user can bypass according to the degrees of freedom offered by the device.

Definition of GL Transmission Format (glTF):

The GL Transmission Format abbreviated as glTF is a royalty-free format that allows you to export 3D models as well as software scenes. It also allows them to be imported into an application or a reader to view them in augmented reality or virtual reality. This is an open source project developed by Kronos.

Definition of an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU):

An Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) is, according to Xsens, it is a "  ».

Definition of the Light Field:

The light field is an optical technology used by companies like Avegant or even Magic Leap which allows you to display objects in different focal planes. This gives an illusion of depth during an augmented reality experience.

Definition of the mesh in augmented reality (Mesh):

The mesh or Mesh is a network of points identified in space. Lines drawn between these points provide a rough representation of an environment in 3 dimensions. The mesh is used in particular by the Hololens device when it maps the environment or when it visualizes the different layers of a 3-dimensional model.

Definition of Optical Engine:

The optical engine also called Optical Engine in English is a component of a helmet or augmented reality glasses. The optical engine is the component that generates the visual content of the device. It is made up of the device's processor, the light generator that projects the images or holograms as well as the mirror system. Everything is connected to an interface and the result is projected on a transparent screen.

Definition of localization and simultaneous mapping (SLAM):

Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) is a term inherited from robotics and computer vision. This is the process by which a computer analyzes an environment and constructs a digital map of that area.. SLAM is used to anchor virtual content in the real world and physical spaces. This system is particularly widely used by Apple's ARKit to detect surfaces and the user's environment.

Definition of Six Degrees of Freedom of Movement (6DoF):

The six degrees of freedom (6DoF for 6 Degrees of Freedom) describes the range of motion (both in virtual reality and augmented reality) that a device worn on the head allows the user to move on a relative axis. to the virtual content of a scene. Concretely, the first 3 degrees of freedom correspond to the movements of the head (left / right, forward / backward and up / down). The other three degrees of freedom correspond to the similar movements of the user but this time in his environment.

Definition of the Development Software Kit (SDK):

A Software Development Kit (SDK) is a group of tools for developers that allows them to create an application on an interface. Apple's ARKit or even Google's ARCore are excellent examples and allow you to take advantage of numerous software tools to easily develop applications on iOS for the first and on Android for the second. We also speak of a toolkit for application development.

Definition of Visuo-Inertial Odometry (VIO):

Visuo-inertial odometry (VIO for Visual-Inertial Odometry) is used in particular by Qualcomm. This technology combines a camera and inertia sensors in a device in order to evaluate its position and orientation..

Definition of waveguide screens:

Waveguide Displays called Waveguide Displays are transparent screens through which digital content is projected. The user can thus view the virtual content on these screens in the field of view of the augmented reality device.

Definition of Computer Aided Design (CAD):

CAD for Computer-Aided Design is especially popular among architects, engineers and designers. Using creative software like AutoCad or SketchUp, for example, creatives can virtually design objects, buildings and more. Augmented reality now makes it possible to visualize these creations and even to animate them.

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