In 1994 Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino defined a mixed reality as "...anywhere between the extrema of the virtuality continuum." (VC), where the Virtuality Continuum extends from the completely real through to the completely virtual environment with augmented reality and augmented virtuality ranging between.
"The conventionally held view of a Virtual Reality (VR) environment is one in which the participant-observer is totally immersed in, and able to interact with, a completely synthetic world. Such a world may mimic the properties of some real-world environments, either existing or fictional; however, it can also exceed the bounds of physical reality by creating a world in which the physical laws ordinarily governing space, time, mechanics, material properties, etc. no longer hold. What may be overlooked in this view, however, is that the VR label is also frequently used in association with a variety of other environments, to which total immersion and complete synthesis do not necessarily pertain, but which fall somewhere along a virtuality continuum. In this paper we focus on a particular subclass of VR related technologies that involve the merging of real and virtual worlds, which we refer to generically as Mixed Reality (MR)."
The Virtuality Continuum is a phrase used to describe a concept that there is a continuous scale ranging between the completely virtual, a Virtual Reality, and the completely real: Reality. The reality-virtuality continuum therefore encompasses all possible variations and compositions of real and virtual objects. It has been somewhat incorrectly described as a concept in new media and computer science, when in fact it could belong closer to anthropology. The concept was first introduced by Paul Milgram.
The area between the two extremes, where both the real and the virtual are mixed, is the so-called Mixed reality. This in turn is said to consist of both Augmented Reality, where the virtual augments the real, and Augmented virtuality, where the real augments the virtual.
The virtuality continuum has grown and progressed past labels such as computer science and new media. As the concept has much to do with the way in which humans continue to change how they communicate; the way in which form identities and the way in which they interact to and within the world; it is more accurately described as a subject within anthropology.
Changes in attitudes towards and the increase in availability of technology and media have changed and progressed the way it is used. One to one (sms), one to many (email), and many to many (chat rooms), have become ingrained in society. The use of such items have made once clear distinctions like 'online' and 'offline' obsolete, and the distinctions between reality and virtuality have become blurred as people are incorporating and relying heavily upon virtuality within their everyday personal realities.
Daniel Miller and Don Slater are prominent researchers pursuing the concept of the virtuality continuum and the media and its effect on communities, especially in the Caribbean, most notably Trinidad and Jamaica.
Steve Woolgar is another researcher who has established four rules of virtuality. These are:
The way in which media and technology affect people relies on their non-ICT (information communication technology) related background which may include gender, age, social status, income amongst others.
Risks and fears in regards to new media and technology are unevenly socially distributed.
Advancements in media and technology supplement rather than replace existing activities in Reality.
New media and technology tends to create new kinds of localism rather than furthering globalisation.