This £2m Research and Partnership Development call for the Next Generation of Immersive Experiences supports the development of early-stage research partnerships that will explore the creation of new immersive experiences addressing three key themes: Memory, Place and Performance.

Glossary of Terms

Immersive Technologies

Definition: high-end visualisation, virtual, mixed, and augmented reality, haptics and other sensory interfaces with data. via Immerse UK

4D movies

The 4D moviegoing experience enhances a 3D film screening with physical effects that occur in the theatre in synchronization with the film. Effects simulated in a 4D film may include rain, wind, fog, lightning, vibration and scent. As of 2016, most of the world’s 4D theatres are located in Asia and Latin America.

360° video

A 360° video is created with a camera system that simultaneously records all 360 degrees of a scene. Viewers can pan and rotate a 360 video’s perspective to watch it from different angles. 360 videos can be viewed on mobile devices, but a fully immersive viewing requires a headset. Since 2015, both YouTube and Facebook support 360° videos.

AR (Augmented Reality)

A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, providing a composite view. AR can be experienced using a smartphone screen or wearable devices such as connected glasses (Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens, Magic Leap are expected to release consumer wearables starting 2016).

IKEA has also developed a table as part of its concept kitchen that suggests recipes based on the ingredients on the table.

Aspect ratio

Aspect ratio is the width versus the height of a viewing screen. This impacts what a user sees in virtual reality and whether or not the view is distorted.

Binaural audio

Binaural audio seeks to reproduce sound the way the human ear hears it. In an immersive experience with binaural audio, it allows the user to perceive a genuine 360 degree sound.


Google Cardboard is a cardboard headset that turns Android and iOS phones into VR devices, removing one of VR’s biggest barriers to entry: cost. Since its launch in 2014, Google has sold well over 1 million Cardboard headsets.

This low cost viewing solution has sparked a lot of competition from other headset makers, turning the word ‘cardboard’ into a generic term for “entry-level mobile VR headset”. In 2015, the New York Times, partnering with Google, gave away 1.3 million headsets to its subscribers, allowing them to experience custom-made immersive editorial content.

Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE)

An immersive virtual reality environment where projectors are directed to three, four, five or six of the walls of a room-sized cube. The name is also a reference to the allegory of the Cave in Plato’s Republic where a philosopher contemplates perception, reality and illusion.


Assists the Principal Investigator in the management and leadership of the research project. The Co-Investigator can undertake research activity themselves, there is no limit to the amount of time the Co-Investigator can contribute although it needs to allow time for the management and leadership duties on the project.

Computer-generated VR (CG VR)

An immersive experience created entirely from computer-generated content. CG VR can be either pre-rendered and therefore not reactive (similar to 360° video), or rendered in real time using a games engine.

There is also a hybrid between 360° video and CG, where an immersive experience is created using a blend of both content types. There’s no real name for this ‘third way’ of creation, but audiences are used to the concept of visuals being created using a combination of both real-world and CG content.

Digital Humanities (DH)

DH reflects the intersection of computing and disciplines that explore human culture. While technology has long been leveraged for teaching and learning in science, engineering, and related disciplines, it also can play an essential role in advancing literature, creative writing, art, and the social sciences. Digital storytelling in the form of video narratives and museum technology (“mustech”) such as the use of virtual reality for creating interactive art exhibits are two examples of digital humanities entrance points.

A distinctive feature of DH is its cultivation of a two-way relationship between the humanities and the digital: the field both employs technology in the pursuit of humanities research and subjects technology to humanistic questioning and interrogation, often simultaneously.

Methods and practices include: digital archives, quantitative analyses, tool-building projects, visualizations of large image sets, 3D modeling of historical artifacts, ‘born digital’ dissertations, hashtag activism and the analysis thereof, alternate reality games, and mobile makerspaces.

Directional Audio

Directional audio offers a user guidance and locational stability in a virtual environment. It helps prompt actions to look or move in a certain direction.

Directly Allocated Costs

Costs of resources used by a project that are shared by other activities. Charged to projects on the basis of estimates rather than actual costs and do not represent actual costs on a project-by-project basis. e.g. investigators, estates, the costs of other research, technical, administrative or support staff, and access to institutional research facilities such as equipment and IT systems.

Directly Incurred Costs

Costs that are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project, are charged as the cash value actually spent and are supported by an audit record. They include: staff, travel and subsistence, equipment; any other items dedicated to the project including: consumables, books, survey fees, purchase/hire of vehicles, publication costs or recruitment and advertising costs for staff directly employed on the project, items of equipment costing less than £10,000.

Early Career Researcher (ECR)

An individual within 8 years of the award of their PhD or equivalent professional training, or within 6 years of their first academic appointment. These durations exclude any period of career break. The ‘first academic appointment’ is defined as the first paid contract of employment, either full-time or part-time, which lists research and/or teaching as the primary functions.

Embodied Interaction

Term coined by Paul Dourish that seeks to explain the fundamental role played by the physical body in how we experience, interact with and understand computation in the everyday world we live in. This perspective can be used to discuss human actions and interactions with a range of computational applications including tangibles, mobiles, wearables, tabletops and interactive environments.

Environmental Humanities

The Environmental Humanities are a diverse and emergent field of cross-disciplinary research that seeks to analyse and investigate the complex interrelationships between human activity (cultural, economic, and political) and the environment, understood in its broadest sense.

Global environmental questions are increasing at the heart of academic and political debate. Analysing and addressing environmental issues requires an understanding of the reciprocal relationship between nature and culture, between sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

This is important not only in order to insert environmental issues more centrally into the humanities, as a fascinating and urgent intellectual enterprise. It is equally important for scientists to be cognizant of the way in which human culture shapes environmental impacts, environmental debates and regulation of all kinds.

Field of View (FOV)

The field of view, measured in degrees, is the extent of the observable world that is seen at any given moment. In VR, FOV is the extent of your natural vision that is filled by the headset’s display. Humans have a FOV of around 180°, but most HMDs offer between 50 and 110°.

Full Economic Cost (FEC)

The full economic cost of an activity incorporates all direct and indirect costs.


Immersive dome-based video projection environments. The dome, horizontal or tilted, is filled with real-time (interactive) or pre-rendered (linear) computer animations, live capture images, or composited environments.

Although the current technology emerged in the early-to-mid 1990’s, fulldome environments have evolved from numerous influences, including immersive art and storytelling, with technological roots in domed architecture, planetariums, multi-projector film environments, flight simulation, and virtual reality.


An umbrella term that has emerged internationally over the last 2-3 years to signal the growing interdisciplinary engagement between Geography and arts and humanities disciplines. The term indicates how scholarship on key geographical concerns (e.g. space, place, landscape, and environment) is advanced across arts and humanities disciplines.

GIS (geographical information systems)

A computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. GIS can show multiple kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyse, and understand patterns and relationships.

Haptics (touch feedback)

Recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user, through feedback devices e.g. vibrating game controllers. In VR, headsets primarily use sight and sound to immerse the user, but haptic gloves and suits may offer a fully immersive physical experience of digital worlds.

Head & Eye Tracking

Sensors that keep up with the movement of the user’s head/eyes and move the images being displayed so that they match the positioning of the head/eyes.

Higher Education Institution (HEI)

Higher education institution (HEI) is a term from the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. It means any provider which is one or more of the following: a UK university; a higher education corporation; a designated institution.

Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

HCI researches the design and use of computer technology, focused on the interfaces between people (users) and computers. Researchers observe the ways in which humans interact with computers, and design technologies that let humans interact with computers in novel ways.

HCI is situated at the intersection of computer science, behavioural sciences, design, media studies, and several other fields of study. The term connotes that, unlike other tools with only limited uses, a computer has many uses and this takes place as an open-ended dialogue between the user and the computer. The focus on dialogue likens HCI to human-to-human interaction.


Immersion creates life-like experiences within a simulated environment, surrounding the user with a perception that they are actually in the environment depicted around them.

Immersive Experience

A deeply-engaging, multisensory, digital experience, which can be delivered using VR, AR, 360° video, MR and/or other technologies. Immersive Digital Environment (IDE)

An artificial, interactive, computer-created scene or “world” within which a user can immerse themselves. IDEs could be thought of as synonymous with Virtual Reality, but without the implication that actual “reality” is being simulated. An IDE could be a model of reality, but could also be a complete fantasy user interface or abstraction, as long as the user of the environment is immersed within it.

The success with which an immersive digital environment can actually immerse the user is dependent on many factors such as believable 3D graphics, surround sound, interactive user-input and other factors such as simplicity, functionality and potential for enjoyment.


Research Councils UK (RCUK) defines research impact as ‘the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy’. This can involve academic, economic or societal impact:

Academic: the demonstrable contribution that excellent social and economic research makes in shifting understanding and advancing scientific, method, theory and application across and within disciplines

Economic and societal: the demonstrable contribution that excellent social and economic research makes to society and the economy, and its benefits to individuals, organisations and/or nations.

Impact can include influencing the development of policy, practice or service provision, shaping legislation, altering behaviour; contributing to the understanding of policy issues, reframing debates; technical and personal skill development.

Indirect Costs

Includes non-specific costs charged across all projects based on estimates that are not otherwise included as Directly Allocated costs e.g. costs of the Research Organisation’s administration, personnel, finance, library and some departmental services. International co-investigators are not eligible for Indirect Costs.

Interaction Design (IxD)

IxD focuses on creating engaging interfaces with well thought out behaviours. Understanding how users and technology communicate with each other is fundamental. With this understanding, you can anticipate how someone might interact with the system, fix problems early, and as invent new ways of doing things. While predominantly used in digital fields, IxD is also useful when creating physical (non-digital) products, exploring how a user might interact with it.

Immersive Theatre

In immersive theatre, the audience are not merely passive bystanders.

They are part of the story, however small their role may be, and they are in the middle of the action. They may be allowed to roam and explore the performance space as the performance happens around them, allowing them to decide what they see and what they skip. They might be herded from room to room so they see the key scenes. They might be invited to become a more active part of the performance.

The lines between performer/audience and performance/life are blurred.

Joint Electronic Submission System (Je-S)

System through which all Research Council proposals must be submitted ( Both individual applicants and the submitting Research Organisation (the one that will hold the award) must be registered on the system.

Kinesthetic Dissonance

When a gesture or motion does not match the appropriate feedback or response during an immersive experience.

Knowledge Exchange

An HEIs’ engagement with businesses, public and third sector services, the community and wider public. It includes the transferring or exchanging of knowledge with the aim of delivering external impact, such as improving products, services and profitability. This is linked with research and teaching, and includes consultancy and advisory work, the creation of intellectual property, the development of academic and student entrepreneurship, and a variety of other activities.


The tiny but perceptible delay between when you move your head in VR and when the image in front of your eyes changes — creating a mismatch between the motion you feel (with your inner ears) and the image you see (with your eyes). In real life, the delay is essentially zero. In VR, a 20 millisecond latency is considered low and acceptable for a comfortable experience.

Mixed Reality/Hybrid Reality

The merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualisations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality is an overlay of synthetic content on the real world that is anchored to and interacts with the real world e.g. surgeons overlaying virtual ultrasound images on their patient while performing an operation. The key characteristic of MR is that the synthetic content and the real-world content are able to react to each other in real time. Hardware associated with mixed reality includes Microsoft’s HoloLens. Microsoft recently announced a HoloLens emulator for developers.

Open Access (OA)

OA is about making the results of research freely available to anyone who wants to access them. Until recently the focus has been on published outputs such as journal articles and book chapters. Data underpinning publications is also included. A key driver behind OA has been to make publicly-funded research accessible to tax-payers.

Peer Review

The process of subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field. Peer review requires a community of experts in a given (and often narrowly defined) field, who are qualified and able to perform impartial review.

Perceptual Psychology

A branch of cognitive psychology dealing with mental processes that we use in everyday living. Any time you solve a problem, make a decision or make a memory you are using an example of perceptual psychology. Each of our five senses play a role in how we perceive people, objects, and situations. We use these cognitive processes to make decisions, and these decisions shape who we are as people. Perceptual Psychology helps us better understand why we makes these choices.

Performance Capture/Motion Capture

The process or technique of recording patterns of movement digitally, especially the recording of an actor’s movements for the purpose of animating a digital character in a movie or video game.


The perception of being physically present in a non-physical world, or a state of consciousness where the VR user experiences a simulated experience that appears real and feels real. Presence can be measured as the degree to which the virtual environment faithfully evokes a sense of reality that causes the user to suspend disbelief.


The storage of a project’s digital outputs for a period beyond the end of funding.

Principal Investigator (PI)

The PI takes responsibility for the intellectual leadership of the research project and for the overall management of the research or other activities. S/he will be the person to whom the AHRC addresses all correspondence and must be based at the organisation at which the grant will be held.

Refresh Rate

The speed at which the series of images being viewed is updated. Higher refresh rates (ideally over 60 frames per second) cut down on lag, reduce VR sickness and offer more responsive experiences.

Research Assistant

Research Assistants must be of postdoctoral standing. They should possess either a PhD or have the equivalent research experience. The responsibilities of the post requested on the project should be commensurate with the level of experience and skills of the proposed Research Assistant.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

An assessment that is carried out periodically to determine the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results are used by the higher education funding bodies for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to allocate research funding. The REF replaced the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and the outcomes of the first REF were completed in December 2014.

Site-specific Theatre

Any type of theatrical production designed to be performed at a unique, specially adapted location other than a standard theatre. This specific site either may be originally built without any intention of serving theatrical purposes (for example, in a hotel, courtyard, or converted building), or may simply be considered an unconventional theatre space (for example, in a forest).

Social VR

A type of application that aims to create a shared VR space where users can interact with each other and participate in activities.


Plans for ensuring that digital outputs remain publicly accessible and usable for a period beyond the end of funding. In the case of on-line resources this means keeping the full on-line system working.

Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC)

A uniform approach to the costing of activities undertaken by all UK HEIs since 2002.

User Interface (UI) Design

The transference of a brand’s strengths and visual assets to a product’s interface as to best enhance the user’s experience. It is a process of visually guiding the user through a product’s interface via interactive elements across all sizes/platforms.

UI Design is a digital field, which includes responsibility for cooperation and work with developers or code. In analogical terms, UI design produces a product’s: visual/graphic presentation; reactivity and interactivity in response to a user’s input or different display environments; guides, hints, and directives that visually leads users through their experience.

User Experience (UX) Design

The process of development and improvement of quality interaction between a user and all facets of a company. It is hands on with the process of research, testing, development, content, and prototyping to test for quality results.

In theory, it is a non-digital (cognitive science) practice, but used and defined predominantly by digital industries. Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. Something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.

VR (Virtual Reality) & VR Headset/Head Mounted Display (HMD)

A 3D, usually computer-generated environment which can be explored and sometimes interacted with using a closed headset that provides full immersion into that environment. VR environments are mostly designed for gaming, entertainment and exploratory experiences, but the technology is also used for simulation purposes in other industries (industrial prototyping, military, education and healthcare).

A VR headset consists of a goggle-like device which includes a display and lenses to let you explore VR environments. There are two main types of HMDs: tethered and mobile. Current high-end tethered headsets designed for gaming (requiring a PC or gaming console capable of delivering a rich graphic experience) include Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.

Mobile headsets, powered by smartphones, offer a more casual, entry-level experience, with a focus on video and lightweight graphics games. Models range from Cardboard viewers to the more sophisticated GearVR by Samsung, and standalone headsets that do not require a smartphone.

VR Sickness

Occurs when exposure to a virtual environment causes symptoms similar to motion sickness. Primarily caused by the disconnect between what the eyes see and what the vestibular sense feels. Various aspects of VR can induce sickness e.g. mismatched motion, field of view, motion parallax, latency, viewing angle and prolonged time spent in VR environments.

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Visit the main Immersive Experiences page for resources and links for the Research and Partnership Development call for the Next Generation of Immersive Experiences.

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