Virtual Reality Headset used on jargon buster e1535624306431

Jargon buster: augmented reality and virtual reality

From virtual reality property tours, to embedding building information through augmented reality, or providing the ability to visualise a development pre-construction on site using mixed reality, the world of VR and AR holds great potential for the property industry.

Here is the terminology you need to know about – and how this technology could benefit your business.

Augmented reality

Virtual items ‘appear’ in the real world. This is usually achieved via a smartphone or other device with a camera, where items are ‘placed’ on top of the real world view. This could be for interior design purposes, such as trialling fittings and fixtures before installation, or to layer information about a property, such as the architect or developer.

Virtual reality

An entirely simulated world. Virtual reality requires a headset or similar visual aid to immerse users in the digital space. So far this technology has been adopted by some estate agents and property developers to allow customers to explore a property, even if it is yet to be built.

Mixed reality

Also known as hybrid reality. Mixed reality is similar to augmented reality in that virtual objects can react to the real landscape. The technology for this isn’t entirely clear cut, and the phrase is less popular than AR and VR.

360 video

Views in every direction are recorded at the same time to allow a scene to be viewed from all angles. However, unlike AR and VR, there is no intractability beyond the ability to scope around a scene. Using 360 video for property tours is becoming increasingly popular, as this is a relatively simple and affordable way to create interactive content.

Web VR

An application programming interface created for developers, to expand the reach of VR without the need for specialised computer programming. This could be used by property companies to generate their own VR applications.

Head Mounted Display (HMD)

This refers to the goggles or headsets used for virtual reality experiences to fully immerse the user into the virtual world. An HMD will have head tracking technology, which means as the user turns his head the field of vision will adapt accordingly. The augmented reality version of this is an Optical Head Mounted Display (OHMD), which projects images into the user’s real life field of vision, first popularised by (the now defunct) Google Glass technology.


Haptic technology recreates the sensation of touch through vibrations or pressure through gloves. This is designed to make the experience seem more ‘real’. The data gloves that provide haptic feedback are often used for precise, fine-motion control, such as ‘picking up’ objects, or ‘opening’ doors during a virtual property tour.


These serve as the ‘bridge’ between the real and augmented worlds. This could be an object, such as a property schedule, or image that activates associated AR technology.


Similar to markers, triggers are ‘read’ by AR applications to provide information. Often this is through geolocation technology used to activate AR at set locations, as popularised by Pokemon Go. A trigger could be placed on a property for sale, allowing potential buyers to access more information about it through an AR app.

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