VR Content Types

360° VIDEO VR

Immersive videos, more recently known as 360° Videos, are video recordings of real-world scenes, where the view in every direction is recorded at the same time. During playback the viewer has control of the viewing direction.

360° video is an immersive experience using pre-filmed real-world content as the central media. As the industry deliberates on definitions and terminology, some contend that 360° Video, with its real-world content, is not the same as “real VR,” using computer generated content, and the terms should not be interchangeable.

Computer Generated VR

Computer Generated VR is an immersive experience created entirely from computer-generated (i.e. not real-world) content. It can be pre-rendered and non-interactive (similar to 360° Video) or rendered in real time using a computer or gaming engine to provide complete interactivity.

There is a third type of VR, which is a hybrid between 360° video and CG, where an immersive experience is created using a blend of both content types. There is no accepted term for this ‘third way’ of creation, but imagine it like any recent blockbuster movie where, at any moment, what you are seeing on screen is a composite of both real-world footage and computer generated (CG) content. Today it is almost impossible to tell which is which.

Desktop VR (dVR)

Desktop VR is a 3D representation that users can interact with on computer screens either with 3D glasses or simply as a 3D representation of an object or environment on screen. Desktop VR, in this sense, can be thought of as looking through a window (the computer monitor) into a 3D world. For design and gaming applications this perception of 3D has become increasingly powerful over the last 30 years. At this point, some level of desktop 3D is expected in these applications.

Augmented VR (aVR)

Augmented Reality is defined in the industry as a live, direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Whether you are wearing clear glasses or a full headset, aVR presents an image of the real world augmented by an overlay of content. However, the intent is to provide augmented content without the goal of having that content perceived as an integrated part of the real world. The user can interact with the real-world content and/or the CG content, but the content itself is not primarily intended to appear to, directly or physically, interact with the real world.

Mixed Reality (mVR)

Mixed Reality (mVR) is sometimes referred to as hybrid reality. It is the intentional merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.

Think of mVR as an overlay of synthetic content on the real world that is anchored to and interacting with the real world in real time. The key characteristic of mVR is that the synthetic content and the real-world content are able to react to each other in real time. If you were a surgeon, for example, you might view a live overlay of ultrasound images on your patient while performing an operation. There is some debate about whether aVR and mVR will be, or should be, distinguished from one another as the technology develops.

Immersive VR (iVR)

Immersive virtual reality environment is most often associated with a CAVE automatic virtual environment. CAVE systems were developed in the early 1990s and use projectors that are directed to between three and six of the walls of a room-sized cube. It is worth noting that many Flight Simulators also use detailed simulations projected outside a functioning cockpit mockup sometimes mounted on gimbals to simulate the physical sensation of flight.