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The Unofficial Glossary of Augmented Reality

Spatial Computing in AEC from A-Z. What does it all mean, man?

A construction worker reviews project overview in Argyle with Hand Mesh
Ever really looked at your hands in AR?

I started this glossary for myself years ago as a total noob to the AR scene. (Hi, Maret again here!) I was fresh from the courtroom wanting to run a business on Mixed Reality. I knew nothing about the tech world other than I wanted to participate in this new thing. Here are the words that might be helpful for you to know, as outlined by Maret--enjoy!

A is for Augmented Reality

Often called "AR" and sometimes called Mixed Reality, Augmented Reality shows you your world + data through clear glasses. It's like reality but with with additional layer of interactive holographic data overlaid on top of it. Bonus reality! In AEC, Augmented Reality (AR) allows you to see buildings pop out of the plans or with applications like Argyle, an actual holographic BIM overlay on site.

AR Devices

Augmented Reality Devices can be head-mounted or hand-held. Handheld devices can be your phone or tablet capable of running ARKit (iOS) or ARCore (Android). When it come to construction the best construction workflow, and spatially aware Head-mounted AR Device is the Microsoft Hololens 2. However, the handheld devices are catching up with their recent Lidar integrations.

AR as Input

Augmented reality devices are not just displays or output mechanisms--they're input mechanisms. You can track gaze and position, scan the space, and save intentional interactions that happen with the environment.

In construction, AR use passively gathers scan data. It works in the background, creating a mesh Argyle uses to help you track completion, QA, and more.

Argyle Application

An application and solution for construction quality assurance. We can help you if you have a model and and repeating process you want to automate.

BIM - Building Information Modeling

BIM is a PROCESS. We refer to it as a database of all the parts and pieces of a building, and all the information about those parts and pieces. Construction methods, fire rating, pricing, structural performance, thermal performance, manufacturers, specifications, etc. BIM is spatial computing with a somewhat...challenging 2D interface.

In Argyle, BIM surrounds you in 3D, tied to the build of the project. That makes spatial computing with an intuitive 3D interface.

Digital Mockup vs Physical Mockup

Physical Mockups in architecture are 1:1 3D recreations (usually in cardboard) of a physical space used to test ergonomics and flow. Often used in Medical and Manufacturing Design and Construction. Digital Mockups in Virtual or Augmented Reality helps replace or supplement physical mockups.


The concept of the accuracy of alignment when you walk a distance in Augmented Reality. When you walk to the other side of the jobsite is the hologram aligned or is it a bit off? If it's off, you have drift. If not, you're aligned and without drift.

Mixed Reality

"Extended" or "Mixed" Reality is the interface for spatial computing. This blanket term used by some industry people to describe the combination of meat space and data, including AR, VR, XR, MR. Regular people tend to still say "Virtual Reality" for everything. It's cool. We still hang out.

An augmented reality view of HVAC systems to be installed on site using Argyle
It's Augmented Reality if you can see the world. It's Virtual Reality if you're in another world. Which one is this?


Persistence is the degree to which an AR hologram remains in the correct location-- even under changing conditions or usages (like when you open up my app in a new space on the jobsite).

Remote Assistance

Augmented Reality shared in real time that allows people to look at the same information for ultimate collaboration. Remote assistance native tool to the Hololens 2, we'll see how it gets integrated into more AR applications.

"Six-Dof" of 6dof

6dof stands for Six Degrees of Freedom "yaw, pitch, roll, and movement in XYZ directions." Virtual and Augmented Reality are 6dof and provide full 3D interaction including parallax (subtle head movement).

Spatial Computing

Data that has location in the real world space is spatial data.

Spatial Computing is any kind of computing where the three dimensional coordinates matter and are a part of its use an interaction.

Architects, Contractors, and Engineers have been doing "spatial computing" with Building Information Models for a long time because they're solving spatial problems.

A view of a construction site with a virtual reality overlay of a hole.
A view of a "hole" in Argyle Hololens.

Spatial Project Management

Spatial Project Management uses data that has a location in real world space to improve project outcomes.

One example in AEC is Argyle's Quality Assurance application which guides frontline workers to inspect elements in 3D space such as on the jobsite.


The concept of meeting in virtual space. Something spatial is interactive and shared. Telepresence for AEC allows architects, contractors, and owners to meet in unbuilt space.

Telepresence at Argyle allows our remote team to discuss projects and play games to connect. We predict telepresence will be a growing part of our post Covid-19 world.

Construction worker wearing Personal Protective Gear and Hololens inspects building element "structural embed" in Augmented Reality using Argyle
With Telepresence you can see through the eyes of the frontline worker

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality or VR is experienced through a headset that both 1) shuts out or occludes the real world, and 2) allows you to see an entirely virtual world (bound by real world constraints, like walls).

For AEC, Virtual reality is used for Training, Visualization, Simulation, and Telepresence. It's also a great way to draw in 3D, to virtually check out site conditions, and to play virtual mess-free paintball with your friends.

Virtual Reality - 360 Viewers

Ever seen your phone do a split screen VR trick? This is Virtual Reality through a split image or video that is 360 degrees, or a static or video photosphere. 360 VR conveys a sense of immersion as the user can look in all directions (3Dof - sees which direction you're pointing, "yaw, pitch, roll"), however because it is not spatially aware, the user cannot "walk" in a 360 photosphere. Still pretty nifty.

Used in AEC for marketing, pitches, and easy outreach campaigns.

XR - Extended Reality

See Mixed Reality, above


A bug that can plague visualization tools for the industry--it happens because the graphics card is worried about surfaces rendering on top of one another.

Doesn't bother Argyle --we don't render surfaces that make it hard to work. Our proprietary edge rendering allows you to see the real world through a subtle visual guide.

That's all for today! Thanks for tuning in for this unique Glossary edition of Argyle Blog. Writing for you makes me happy. What other terms would you like defined?

- Maret, CEO Argyle Inc.

Argyle updates its blog with news on Construction QA, Augmented Reality in AEC, and Argyle Product updates around 3 times a month. Subscribe to be the first to get special product offers, news about Argyle releases, and short stories about construction.

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