Terminology Monsters Alive and Well

Most enterprise IT managers use dozens of acronyms and a large specialized vocabulary for communicating about their projects. The mobile industry is particularly rich with layers of terminology. Last year mobile IT professionals were studying and defining policies for BYOD. Now wearable technology is at the top of every mobile technology portal.  

Confusion in Communication

Ironically, Augmented Reality promises to deliver improved communication to the user but is plagued with a potential for confusion in terminology. The glossaries—yes, there are several—have nearly 40 frequently misused terms (each) with only a few overlapping terms. An analysis of the differences between the AR Community Glossary v 2.2 and the glossary in the Mixed and Augmented Reality Reference Model has been performed by Greg Babb, the AREA editor. This analysis will be discussed with experts during the virtual meeting of the AR Community Glossary Task Force on November 24, 2014.

Who Needs a Glossary?

Simply refer to Milgram’s Continuum. There is a virtual world and a real world. The space between these two extremes is “Mixed Reality.”


It sounds and looks like a simple concept but debate about the segments within Mixed Reality can consume entire meetings.


Is the 1st & 10  in football Augmented Reality? No, it isn’t according to the debate among experts of the AR Community. And when the details of Mixed Reality need to be spelled out and implemented in a distributed computing architecture by many different people, the definitions are insufficient and the concepts blend together. This is an impediment to enterprise AR introduction and adoption.

Diminished Potential

Speaking of blending together, in early November, Hewlett Packard announced its spectacular plans for 2015 as bringing “Blended Reality” to new personal computing products. The sprout PC replaces a keyboard and mouse with touchscreen, scanner and other features that let users take actual objects and easily “put” them into a PC.

Seeing a connection with Augmented Reality, the author of this Business Insider article tried to define Virtual and Augmented Reality. “That’s what you get when you put on Google Glass and it projects Google-y facts or images on the world. Or you run an app like Star Chart on your smartphone, hold it up to the sky and it superimposes the constellations on your view of the sky,” wrote Julie Bort to hundreds of thousands of readers.

Forget the fact that Google Glass does not really provide Augmented Reality and ask the executive who is running a multi-billion dollar business if they want an app to project constellations on their warehouse or factory ceiling. Augmented Reality’s potential is not only unclear; it actually gets diminished by comparisons of this nature (nevertheless, let’s not confuse this with “diminished reality,” OK?).

The fact that HP is beginning to pay attention to Blended Reality, Mixed Reality or Augmented Reality should not come as a surprise, given the integration of the Aurasma group into the company and the variety of services that could be provided on HP servers for managing and delivering AR experiences. But the new sprout PC looks awfully similar in some ways to demonstrations of Intel’s Real Sense. If these similarities are deep, then perhaps it is time for Intel and HP to invest in educating their target audiences about these new technologies. And a consistent vocabulary would come in handy.

To make sure that people do not jump to the conclusion that Blended Reality is something invented in 2014 by HP, the Business Insider article points out that Blended Reality was first introduced in 2009 by the esteemed Institute for the Future (IFTF). “The IFTF envisioned it as a sort of tech-enabled sixth sense, which will be worn or maybe even implanted into our bodies and interface with our computers,” concludes the Business Insider piece.

If that is how HP is using the term, there are even bigger problems than the definition of Augmented Reality terminology.

Mixed and Augmented Reality Reference Model

One of the solutions for this obstacle to Augmented Reality deployment is the Mixed and Augmented Reality Reference Model. The candidate specification is available for review and will be voted on within ISO/IEC JTC1 SC 29 WG 11 (MPEG) in 2015.

To learn more about the Mixed and Augmented Reality Reference Model, visit this AREA blog post.

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