Reality-Virtuality Continuum & Terms

Anna Sharpes
3 min readSep 26, 2020

Throughout the years, the technological world continues to advance with immense strides. One of the these advances being the reality-virtuality continuum. Reality-virtuality continuum is the vast varieties of digital technology that encompasses a person’s physical reality. Whether it’s using Snapchat lenses for virtual filters on your videos, shopping online and trying on clothes virtually from the comforts of your home, being in a completely virtual world of adventure and wonder through devices like the Oculus Quest 2, and so much more.

Virtual Reality

VR or virtual reality is a computer technology that creates a simulated 3D environment for people to use almost all of their senses like seeing or touching to interact with the artificial world around them. Of course, virtual reality is most used in the video game industry who have been quick to adapt to the hardware and make it more widely available. Some of the most popular VR devices are Oculus Rift and the Playstation VR.

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Augmented Reality

Unlike virtual reality, AR or augmented reality uses computer-generated input like sound and graphics to enhance, not completely interact or replace, a person’s physical world via smartphones, glasses, and other various hand-held devices. This type of reality with the help of various technologies like simultaneous localization and mapping, depth tracking, and other components, is used on things like filters/overlays that people use to add graphics, text, and sound in their videos, games like Pokemon Go, and more.

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Mixed Reality

MR or mixed reality links human, computer, and environment interaction using environmental input, locations/positioning in both real and virtual spaces, and spatial sound to create a blend of both the physical and digital worlds. Although there aren't many devices that can run experiences across the entire virtual reality spectrum, there are some devices today that can handle a specific range within the mixed reality range.

Extended Reality

XR or extended reality serves as the umbrella term that’s given to all computer generated environments that either merge both the physical and digital world, or completely immerse someone in a virtual environment. Basically for VR, AR, and MR currently. However, extended reality will become even more involved in people’s lives as the years go on, giving hope for new exciting possible realities in the future.

Immersive Experience Design

With a new generation of designers, immersive experience design uses virtual/dimensional environments to slowly become more and more seamlessly involved with many aspects of our physical world including story-driven media, healthcare, architecture design, and so much more. Soon in the possible future, immersive experience design might even eliminate the difference of what it means to be online or offline.