You are here

Human-Computer Interaction; Virtual Reality; Augmented Reality


IT11. Human-Computer Interaction; Virtual Reality; Augmented Reality

These three closely related fields encompass technologies that facilitate interactions among humans, computers and the external world and thereby enable many societally beneficial uses of information technology.

The field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of human-computer interfaces through the development of novel software and hardware designs to recognize and interpret human characteristics and behavior. Improvements in HCI technology can lead to enhanced virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences by providing more natural and efficient ways for a user to interact with a real or virtual environment.

Technical sub-specialties within HCI are broad and varied, including (but not limited to): machine learning to anticipate and meet a user's needs; speech recognition; voice control; gesture recognition (e.g., hand or eye tracking); behavior recognition; behavioral analytics; mood/emotion recognition; virtual assistants; visualization and display technology; tactile displays; haptics; biometric sensing; bioacoustic sensing; biosignal detection and processing. These technologies may be implemented on wearable devices such as smart watches, smart glasses and health trackers.

Virtual Reality involves providing sensory input to a user that replicates being present in a real or imagined environment. Most commonly the sensory input is limited to sight and sound, but it can also include other senses such as touch. Augmented Reality, on the other hand, involves a live direct or indirect experience of an environment, overlaid with computer-generated sensory input usually in the form of graphics, video and/or sound.

Applications of VR and AR include (but are not limited to): education – enhanced learning experiences; medical and healthcare – treatments for PTSD, phantom pain, anxieties and phobias, autism in children; support for complex tasks such as surgery, equipment assembly, or maintenance and repair by adding relevant information to the field of view of the user; training for medical personnel, law enforcement, military, and emergency responders; architectural design – experiencing a virtual building before it's built; engineering and design; telepresence – for meetings and remote workers; market research – experiencing a virtual product that doesn't yet exist; entertainment – cinema, music, and sports; tourism; product advertising and promotion; computer games.

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government