Extended Realities (VR/AR/MR): Glossar

Jessica Wegelin
22 August 2018

With every new project that involves XR in some way, designers face the problem that the terminology of this new branch has not yet fully manifested itself. A common vocabulary for these technologies is therefore of utmost importance to keep communication within the team clear and direct. For this reason, we would also like to share our XR compendium with you.


Augmented Reality

Projection of virtual objects onto the real world in real time. Compatible with modern smartphones or AR headsets like Microsoft Hololens.

Augmented Virtuality

Projection of real objects onto a virtual world. Requires VR-compatible headsets such as HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

Virtual Reality

Simulation and display of virtual objects in stereoscopic images. Creates spatial effect by recording the user’s eyes separately.

Mixed Reality

Umbrella term for all technologies that are located between the unadulterated, real world and completely virtual reality (e.g. augmented reality or augmented virtuality).

Reality-Virtuality Continuum

The reality-virtuality continuum shows the different stages in the transition from real space to a completely virtual environment.

Reality-Virtuality Continuum

Hardware & Technology

Eye Tracking

Capture and record the eye movements of a personality.

Head Tracking

Head tracking refers to a method of detecting the position, attitude, and movements of the head to provide a display corresponding to the viewing angle or to enable other head-based control. (wikipedia)

HMD — Head-Mounted Display

A head-mounted display is a visual output device worn on the head that displays images generated on a computer on a screen near the eye or projects images directly onto the retina through virtual retina display (e.g., HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens).(wikipedia)

Holophonic Sound

Spatial audio playback method with the aim of creating virtual, acoustic environments. The generated sound can thus serve for spatial orientation in a scenery.

HUD — Head-up Display

Display system in which the user can maintain his head position or viewing direction because the information is projected into the field of view. Known navigation element from the controls of computer games or modern airplanes.


Photogrammatic design

A 3D object or environment is created automatically on the basis of a large number of photographs from different perspectives (3d scan) in a 3D program without modeling.


Generation of spatial images using two conventional images showing a scene from slightly different viewing angles.

Feedback & User Guidance

Haptical Feedback / Rattle

Haptic feedback of a device, e.g. vibration on a controller.

User Experience and User Interface

Contentlayer / Screen Space

Areas decoupled from the scenery, which can hold additional information.

Diegetic UI

Positioning of the user interface both in the spatial environment and in relation to the context and setting of the application.

Fuse Button

UI elements that trigger a visual countdown when the user has focused on them for a defined time. Replaces direct feedback when the user has no way to trigger an action on a button or hotspot using a controller or physical buttons on the viewer.

Gaze Selection

Selecting UI elements using eye tracking, or head movement.

Hotspot/Hotspot with label

UI element that is linked to an object in the scenery.


Additional navigation layer in a hotspot.


Sensitive area in which a hotspot is activated.


Visual/auditory/haptic feedback when the reticle activates a UI element.


Corresponds to the mouse pointer in a conventional interface. Controlled either by head movement, gestures or controller.

Spatial UI

Positioning of the user interface in the virtual or real spatial environment (e.g. as a projection on walls).


360° Image/Video

Correspond to spherical panoramas. Spherical panoramas or spherical panoramas are panoramic images in which all angles visible from one point of view are reproduced. On such photographs, an image angle of 360° in width and 180° in height is reproduced. (wikipedia)


Describes the effect that makes the user of a virtual environment feel real. If the degree of immersion is particularly high, it is also referred to as ‘presence’.

Position Tracking

Detection of the position, attitude and movements of a body in space.


Hotspot that leads to a change of location within the application.

VR Video

Stereoscopically captured 180° or 360° video that allows the user to look around.


Context Design

Design in relation to the user’s current context (e.g., location, activity, time) to provide more user-friendly results.


Back translation of a spherical panorama into a two-dimensional image. Equirectangular two-dimensional images represent 180° image angles in the vertical image axis. The image of a virtual sphere surrounding the viewpoint is projected onto a surface.


The principle of not guiding the user as the designer of the application. The user should be free to test the possibilities himself and make decisions independently.


The intentional absence of a story within an application. Instead, the user should be able to develop his own story.


The leaning of visual, auditory, or haptic elements against real objects/processes.



The field of view, is the area of a scene that the user can see at any given time.