Emerging Tech: Terminology & Acronym Guide

It can be a daunting task to keep up with the ever-growing list of acronyms and trending buzz words in the technology space. With the more rapid and widespread adoption of spatial computing and mixed reality technologies, we thought it would be helpful to dive into what they mean and how they differ from each other. 

 

Types of Experiences

AR – Augmented Reality – Digital objects within your real-world setting  

XR – Extended Reality – Less often used term for AR 

VR – Virtual Reality – Fully Immersive experience where you see none of the real-world 

MR – Mixed Reality – The encompassing spectrum related to AR/VR/XR

Marker Based – Within the real-world a QR code or some other real-world marker, or point of reference, is needed 

Non Marker-Based – No real-world marker is needed 

Windowed AR – Using AR via a Smart Device 

Immersive AR – Using AR via a Headset / Wearable 

Room Scale – An experience the size of the room 

Table Top – An Experience that is the size of a…table top 

 

Global Terms

Spatial Computing – An umbrella term for the more immersive kind of digital experiences within the digital world, it is the engine that drives the core of the experiences, input and output of data from both the processing unit to the users’ vision

API – Application Programming Interface, is a computing interface that encompasses interactions between various software intermediaries.

CDN – Content Delivery Network

Wearable – Something that a user will wear

Tethered – A device that needs to be connected to another unit and or power source.

FOV – Field of View, how much a user can see

Hologram – Interactive 3D object that appears in front of the user

Light Field – The ability to capture the depth of a space

Spatial Mesh – The visual representation output of a light field that can be seen by the user/computer system

Digital Twin – Creating a 3D Model replica of a space or object

SDK – Software Development Kit

Eye Tracking – Tracking of eye movement on a headset

Hand Tracking – Tracking of the hands via a headset

Controller – Device held to interact with objects

TPU – Tensor Processing Unit – Processing AI-based information such as photos or video

A.I. – Artificial Intelligence

Machine Learning – Teaching a computer to learn a task

Visual Search – Uploading photos and finding similar photos

Voice SEO – Conversation Based experience that provides value to business/user

 

Coding Languages

WebXR – an API that allows developers to create XR experiences; 

React360 – a coding framework for the creation of interactive 360 experiences that run in your web browser 

WebGL – is a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 2D and 3D graphics 

Unity3D – Unity is a cross-platform game engine used to create AR Experiences

 

3D Object / Viewers

OBJ – 3D File Format 

GlTF – 3D File Format 

USDZ – 3D File Format 

STL – 3D File Format 

Model Viewer – Google’s 3D viewer for Web pages 

Unity to WebGL – The process to move unity experiences to Web Pages 

 

Cloud Storage Options

AWS S3 – Amazon Storage 

GCP Cloud Bucket – Google Storage 

Azure Blob Storage – Microsoft Storage 

DigitalOcean Spaces – 3D Party Storage 

 

AR Content Delivery Networks

○ AWS Cloudfront – Amazon

○ GCP Cloud CDN – Google

Azure CDN – Microsoft 

 DigitalOcean CDN – 3D Party 

 

Hardware

Magic Leap 1 – Augmented Reality Headset from Magic Leap 

Holo Lens – Augmented Reality Headset from Microsoft 

Oculus Rift – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

Oculus Quest – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

Oculus Go – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

HTC Vive – Virtual Reality Headset from HTC 

 

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Blurred Realities: Understanding Spatial Computing and the Mixed Reality Spectrum

Spatial Computing is an umbrella term for the more immersive kind of digital experiences within the digital world. Spatial Computing uses input from both the user and the environment that they are in. In order to do this, more intuitive interaction tools are required, especially in comparison to more traditional tools like a keyboard and mouse. This includes processing natural human responses, such as speech, head motion, body movement, and eye-tracking. The data from these responses is used to create 3D-like environments that are overlaid onto the real world. These overlays are more commonly referred to as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is exactly that – virtual. By wearing a VR headset, you are immersed in an entirely digital world, completely separate from the physical environment that you are currently in. 

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality merely supplements the real world that you’re in. Think of apps like Pokemon Go and Snapchat that overlay filters onto the real world to augment what is seen on-screen versus what is there in reality.

Mixed Reality Spectrum

The best way to understand the range of technology used in spatial computing is to visualize how that technology functions on something called the virtuality continuum, as defined in a research paper by Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino called “A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays.” 

This virtuality continuum defines a spectrum, with the physical world on one side and the digital world on the other. Technology is placed upon it depending on how it interacts (or doesn’t) with the physical world and where it “places” the user. With that definition in mind, tech like Augmented Reality is placed on the side closest to the physical world because it takes the user’s environment and merely augments it. Virtual Reality is found on the opposite side, in the digital world. This is because the actual interaction of VR with the physical world of the user is non-existent due to its very nature of existing in a virtual reality.

So, Where Exactly Does Mixed Reality Fall on This Spectrum?

This may be a slightly misleading question. Mixed Reality (MR) essentially is the spectrum, as MR interacts with both the physical and digital worlds- hence the term, mixed reality.

How Exactly Does MR Interact with Both the Physical and Digital Worlds?

Basically, given that MR itself exists on a spectrum, its use of the physical and digital worlds can vary. What makes it different, however, is that although it has the ability to transport users to the virtual world, it also takes into account the physical environment that the user is currently in and uses that to create a digital experience. A common example of this is if a user has a desk in the room, the MR tech would take this into account. If there was something hidden under that desk, the user would have to physically look under that desk in the real world to be able to access whatever is hidden in the digital world.

Given that MR operates on that spectrum, the extent to which it actually transports users to the digital world or augments their physical environment will differ for different systems. It is predicted that headsets that can cover the entire spectrum will be a reality in the near future.

On the most basic of levels, those are the fundamental differences between VR, AR, and MR. Virtual Reality transports its users to the virtual world without consideration for their physical world. Augmented Reality only takes in the physical world to augment it for the user. Mixed Reality combines the functions of both VR and AR. At the same time, all of these fall under the overarching term of Spatial Computing, given that they enhance how users interact and receive data from their computational devices and make them more intuitive and natural to humans.

Want to learn more on Spatial Computing and Mixed Reality and how it can help your business?

Fill out the form below or visit our Emerging Tech & Innovation page for more information.

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