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What are common terms used in digital media?

If you're interested in digital media, chances are you'll come across these key terms at some stage. Here is what the most common ones mean

If you’re interested in digital media, chances are you’ll come across these key terms at some stage. Here we explain what the most common ones mean.

3D audio

3D audio places sound objects in three-dimensional space, contributing to the feeling of immersions. Sometimes referred to as positional audio.


Stands for three degrees of freedom. It is the tracking of a headsets or controllers’ rotation in three dimensions (pitch, yaw and roll).


Stands for six degrees of freedom. In addition to 3DoF, 6DoF systems also track position of the headset and/or controllers in the X (sway), Y (heave) and Z (surge) axis.

Augmented Reality (AR)

A technology that overlays virtual elements on top of a real-world environment.


A graphical representation of a user-mapped virtual world. Commonly 3D in VR and the avatar will replicate the users’ position and orientation in the real world.

Avatars are often customisable by the user and may be simple (Wii Mii style) or higher fidelity. Avatars may also be partial, for example just arms and hands in the case of a first-person view application (examples include Robo Recall or Superhot VR).


CAVE stand for cave automatic virtual environment.


GPS stand for Global Positioning System.


GPU stand for Graphics Processing Unit.

Head tracking

A method that tracks the users head direction (3DoF) and position (6DoF only) so that the view the user sees in the virtual world changes.


A piece of hardware containing the display for virtual reality. Often includes motion or tracking sensors. Can be either computer based (requires connection to a PC) or mobile based. Common PC based examples include the Oculus Rift and HT Vive and mobile based include the Oculus Quest and Google Daydream.


The sensation of feeling physically present within a virtual environment. Contrasts simply observing or feeling detached from a screen based medium. Can be used interchangeably with presence.

Inside-out tracking

Uses cameras (often infra-red) built into the headset to track a headset and/or controllers position in three dimensions relative to its real world environment.

Mixed Reality

Any technology that is not wholly immersive Virtual Reality but includes augmented reality elements as a hybrid system.

Motion tracking

Allows the registration of a device using positional sensors or markers allowing it to be mapped to a virtual environment.


OSVR stand for Open Source Virtual Reality.

Outside-in tracking

Uses external sensors (often wall mounted) to track a headset and/or controllers position in three dimensions.


PSVR stand for PlayStation Virtual Reality.


A visual cue used for aiming or selecting objects.


A virtual reality set-up that allows the user to experience room-sized experiences. Using positional sensors that allows the user to roam around an entire room.


SDKs stand for Software Development Kits.


A device used to monitor and track the spatial position or orientation of a controller and/or a user while in a virtual world.


A method of locomotion within a virtual world that allows the user to traverse large distances without physically moving in the real world.

Virtual Reality (VR)

A technology that simulates an immersive virtual environment in which the user feels they are physically present.


WMR stand for Windows Mixed Reality.

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