June 14, 2019

3DoF vs. 6DoF in spatial computing

Woman enjoying a VR experience in nature

If you’ve been hearing or reading about spatial computing, you must’ve heard 3DoF and 6DoF. What does it mean and what’s the difference?

What’s DoF?

DoF stands for degrees of freedom. It’s the ability for a solid to move into space along—and around—an axis, x, y or z.

Three-dimensional Cartesian Coordinate System

Three-dimensional Cartesian Coordinate System

A solid completely free in space can rotate around 3 axes (roll, pitch, yaw; 3 degrees of freedom), and translate along 3 axes (elevation, strafe, and surge; 3 more degrees of freedom, for a total of 6). Learn more about degrees of freedom as they apply to mechanics.

3DoF vs. 6DoF in spatial computing

What does this mean in spatial computing? These terms are often applied to VR headsets. For example, Oculus Go is an orientation-only VR headset and qualifies as 3DoF. The Oculus Quest, on the other hand, is an all-in-one VR headset that can track movements in space and qualifies as a 6DoF headset.

In short: If you can only look around, it’s most likely a 3DoF headset. If you can look and move around, it’s a 6DoF headset.

Thomas Deneuville lives in Upstate NY with his wife and two sons, where he writes about creativity, draws, codes, and plays the bagpipe.