Mediated reality is an umbrella term for any technology seeking to manipulate human perception via computer processing. It includes virtual reality(VR), mixed reality (MR), and augmented reality(AR), as well as the lesser known augmented virtuality(AV), modulated reality(ModR), modified reality(MfR) and diminished reality(DR).
These categories don’t tell the whole story however, as there can exist devices and experiences that combine aspects of virtuality, modularity and reality. The mediated reality framework can thus best be understood as a multi dimensional, interrelated taxonomy.
This web experience will serve to illustrate how these realities can alter human sensory input, and shed light on the mediated reality framework.
In the mediated reality framework, unaltered reality is referred to as the ‘real environment’. It is the baseline from which the horizontal virtuality axis, and vertical modularity axis extend.
Virtuality comprises all realities which augment the real environment with computer generated imagery. Virtuality includes virtual reality(VR) as well as types of mixed reality(MR) like augmented reality(AR) and augmented virtuality(AV).
Modularity comprises types of mediated realities that either transform or remove elements from the real environment. Modularity includes lesser known and relatively underdeveloped types of modulated reality(ModR) such as modified reality(MfR), diminished reality(DR) and severely diminished reality(SDR).
First along the virtuality axis is augmented reality(AR). AR can be understood as primarily the real environment with some virtual information or computer generated imagery overlaid over the user's view. This can be done either through a screen interface or see-through head mounted display.
Next on the virtuality axis is augmented virtuality(AV). As opposed to AR where computer generated graphics are superimposed onto a mostly real environment, AV enhances a mainly virtual environment with some aspects or elements of the real world.
Virtual reality(VR), last on the virtuality axis, is a completely artificial, computer-generated environment. This emulation typically requires the use of a head mounted display, such as an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, to fully immerse the user.
Now let’s have a look at the modularity axis.
First along the modularity axis is modified reality(MfR), where the user’s perception is altered through the filtering and modification of real elements.
Next along the modularity axis is diminished reality(DR), where technology is used to hide or remove real elements from the users’ perception. Similar to removing an object from a photo in Photoshop but with a real time head mounted display.
At the extreme of the modularity axis is severely diminished reality(SDR), where the entirety of the real environment is removed. This type of reality, though confusing, essentially results in a form of sensory deprivation.
The synthesis of both MfR and AV, virtual elements are added to a modified yet mostly real environment.
A combination of MfR and AV, real elements are modified and added to a mostly virtual environment.
A somewhat counter-intuitive union of DR and AR, real elements are removed and virtual ones added to the real environment.