Lag (or Latency) is essentially the time between an action and its corresponding reaction. These are terms that game designers are very familiar with, as it doesn't make for good user experience if there are long delays between a gamer inputting a command on a controller and their avatar performing the action on screen, for example.
For Immersive technologies, however, that is even more of a crucial issue, as the user is placed inside that environment, and a disconnect that can feel annoying in a videogame can be truly disorienting in VR if objects around them fail to adjust to their movement in a way that feels natural to their brains' natural navigation systems.
When there is a long delay between real-world movement and that movement being represented within VR it tends to cause issues such as disorientation and motion sickness.
Generally speaking, achieving low latency requires greater processing power – typically using multiple graphics processors – yet there are many compromise and workaround solutions and best practices that companies such as Oculus recommend for developers to adopt in order to minimize any user discomfort.
Every First Wednesday of each month we’re going to dig deeper into the vocabulary of immersive tech, unpicking some of the jargon and buzzwords that get bandied about in this space. As always suggestions and feedback are welcome, just hit reply to this email!