The past few years has seen virtual reality (VR) growing more and more in popularity. As a result, the opportunities to use it as learning and training tool are also expanding in interesting ways as we get more interests from various industries and government sectors.
However, VR can still be intimidating, and many are still not familiar with the terms of this fast-growing technology. In this post, we’ve compiled 10 virtual reality terms you should know before dipping your feet in the virtual pool.
1. Head Mounted Displays (HMD)
HMDs (also known as VR headset) are what people use to experience virtual reality. This comes in the form of a headset, like the Oculus Rift or Pico G2. HMDs sits on your head and are close in proximity to your eyes, allowing users to easily view and focus on a VR experience. HoloLens and Google Glass are also considered HMDs.
2. 360 Video
360 video is the building blocks of any virtual reality experiences. It can be viewed with or without a VR headset. Facebook and YouTube support 360 videos that can be viewed without a VR headset. In a VR headset, viewers can watch it naturally by moving their head with a VR headset.
3. Interactive Virtual Reality
This means that the VR experience includes multiple layers of content that a user can experience. For example, with interactive virtual reality viewers are able to experience several types of media from images, 2D videos or even a pop-up browser. Viewers are in control of their actions and choose how they want to proceed in the experience.
4. Field of View (FOV)
The “field of view” in VR refers to how much the human eye sees in its normal field of vision. We don’t experience life in full 360-degrees as our maximum FOV is around 200-degrees. The best VR headsets would have fields of view that replicates our human eye.
5. Head Tracking
Head tracking is when a device follows and tracks your head movements. Most VR headsets these days comes with some form of head tracking in order to correctly adjust the visual output to your point of view. In short, when you look around in a VR experience, the video moves with you.
6. Eye Tracking
Similarly, eye tracking is when eye movement is tracked instead of head movement. Eye-tracking analytics can provide valuable insights into a user’s attention while in the VR experience. What are users focusing on? Which detail generates the biggest reaction? Which the most positive or negative?
A heatmap is an analytical tool used to show what a user is looking at within a VR experience. It is based on a system of color-coding such as red (“hot”) to blue or green (“cold”) that maps out the focus of the user’s attention. In the context of websites, heatmaps identify areas of interest by measuring cursor movement or clicks. On the other hand, heatmaps in VR usually map the patterns of the user’s gaze.
8. Stereoscopic Video
This refers to what is done to a video to make it appear three-dimensional. Using two different images to simulate and create the illusion of depth in the image, it makes the VR experiences feel much more immersive and natural than monoscopic videos.
To create a VR experience, 360 video is captured using several cameras. These shots are then “stitched” together in post-production to create a complete 360-degree experience. A good VR experience should have zero to none seams as stitching errors pull viewers out of an experience.
10. 3D Audio
Also known as binaural audio, 3D audio puts you in the exact sound field as originally intended, creating a more realistic soundscape for the user. The use of 3D audio gives us the ability to immerse people more deeply into virtual environments, but also create sounds that are more authentic to our ears.