A taxonomy is proposed to classify all varieties of technologically mediated experience. This includes virtual reality and teleoperation, and also earlier devices such as the microscope and telephone. The model of mediated interaction assumes a sensor-display link from the world to the human, and an action-actuator link going back from the human to the world, with the mediating technology transforming the transmitted experience in some way. The taxonomy is used to classify a number of example systems.
Two taxonomies proposed earlier are compared with the ideas presented in this paper. Then the long-term prospects of this field are speculated on, ignoring constraints of cost, effort, or time to develop. Finally, the ultimate limits of synthetic experience are discussed, which derive from properties of the physical universe and the human neural apparatus.