The Ultimate AR/VR Glossary


26 September 2019

While Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) have been around for quite some time now, much of it is still a mystery to the layperson. As a result, seeing big words concerning AR/VR technology can be a barrier to properly understanding the full potential these technologies hold. This means missed opportunities for both businesses and individuals.

Here is a comprehensive and ever-growing glossary of some of the most important terms used in AR/VR to help you understand better.


3D Real-time

The real-time rendering of 3D images. This means that the images you see are rendered fast enough so that the user can interact or move around in the environment. Flip a switch to turn the lights off, or turn a dial to change the temperature. Just like in reality. Not to be confused with 3D animations, which are simply pre- or offline rendered, non-interactive visuals.


Augmented Reality (AR)

The enrichment of a real-life view (e.g. the live camera view of your iPhone) with digital objects (e.g. a machine) in real-time.


The processing and saving of details such as shading or lighting on objects in a 3D scene. This is what contributes to how realistic 3D objects look.



Git is a type of version control system (VCS) that makes it easier for programmers to collaborate and track changes to files. When a file is edited, Git can help determine exactly what changed, who changed it, and why.

Git was developed and released in 2005 by Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. Today, it is used by millions of programmers all over the world, including those at MRstudios, to share code and build programmes in teams.



Haptics is the science of applying touch sensations and controls to a user’s  interaction with computer applications.

Vibration, touch or force feedback (resistance) from controls mimic real-life, making the virtual experience more realistic and immersive. In the same way that VR headsets create a virtual sense of sight and sound, haptic controllers create a virtual sense of touch.


Head-Mounted Display (HMD)

A computer display you can wear on your head. It can be standalone, mobile, or connected to a computer. Popular examples include the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.

Often referred to as “VR glasses”, HMDs are probably the most easily recognisable objects associated with virtual reality. Highly immersive HMDs are often the gateway to the virtual world.



The perception of being physically present in a virtual world. Immersion is created by surrounding the user of the VR system with images, sound or other stimuli that provide an engrossing total environment. Immersive experiences offer myriad opportunities for more realistic learning, pitching and planning of complicated systems.



Images that have been loaded into a system which will trigger an AR experience when recognised through a lens. AR markers serve as a bridge between the real and the virtual world. They are often normal images or small objects which are trained beforehand so that cameras can recognise them.

Markerless AR technology also exists. It maps the physical environment in real-time, and uses cameras and sensors to position a virtual object in an environment without the need for AR markers.


Mixed Reality (MR)

Mixed Reality (MR), as its name suggests, merges real and virtual worlds, where physical and digital objects interact in real time. The ability of the virtual and real-world content to react with each other in real-time is what differentiates MR from AR. This emerging technology requires wearable hardware such as headsets or glasses. In case you were wondering – yes, that’s what MRstudios was named after.


Motion tracking

The process of digitising your movements for use in computer software.

Motion tracking is an essential part of the immersive visualization experience. Tracking the user’s head, body or body parts, allows them to be virtually transported inside the 3D environment. This is also what MRstudios’ used to develop our industry-first gesture-recognition teleportation function. Immersive and interactive experiences like these offer the advantage of making products easier to sell, plan and understand.

See our gesture-recognition teleportation demo reel here.


Positional Tracking

The technology that allows a device to estimate its position relative to the environment around it.

Positional tracking is what makes it possible to track movement and alter one’s position in virtual space. Instead of simply standing in one place and moving around using a controller, headsets with position tracking, such as the HTC Vive, allow you to get up and walk around in virtual space, just as you would in real life. It contributes towards the immersive experience that differentiates VR from regular 3D displays.



Calculations performed by a 3D software render engine to translate a scene from a mathematical approximation to a final image or video. It is the step in the 3D workflow that brings 3D models to life.


Six Degrees of Freedom (6DOF)

The freedom of an object to move in 3D space. Essentially, an object is free to move forwards, backwards, up, down, left and right, combined with rotation around these axes. Six degrees of freedom forms the basis of more sophisticated motion tracking, and is how an object is able to move in three dimensional space instead of simply standing in one spot – crucial for more immersive, whole-room VR experiences.


Software Development Kit (SDK)
An SDK, or devkit, is made up of a set of development tools used to build an application for a specific platform. SDKs are the building blocks for creating Virtual/Augmented Reality experiences such as mobile apps, marketing experiences, training simulations and so on. Some SDKs offer the tools to perform functions such as adding, cloning and moving 3D objects.

For example, one of MRstudios’ products, the MRselection, is an SDK that enhances selection software with 3D Real-time technologies.


Virtual Reality (VR)
A computer simulation of something real or imaginary, that enables the user to interact with it in real-time. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside an experience instead of simply viewing a screen in front of them. It creates a realistic, immersive experience by simulating senses such as sight, hearing and touch.


An Augmented Reality experience that can be accessed using a mobile browser and a simple URL link, without the need for an intermediary application.

WebAR obviates one of Augmented Reality’s biggest hurdles – convincing users to download yet another single use app. Through WebAR, Augmented Reality capabilities can be accessed through a mobile browser, and users will be able to browse through content and view product details without having to download anything extra. In essence, all users have to do is click a link to open up a new universe.


The Ultimate AR/VR Glossary by MRstudios is ever evolving. Can’t find a particular term related to VR, AR or immersive technology in general? Let us know, and we’ll include it.