Many of the needs in the area of psychological research, implicitly outlined in the above discussion, will be automatically satisfied as the field of experimental psychology follows its normal evolutionary course of development. Without special effort, however, much of the information and understanding required to guide evolution of the SE field will be available too late to be useful. In order to significantly increase the cost-effectiveness of the SE research and development work, as well as to determine the likely psychological effects of heavy SE usage before these effects are prevalent throughout the society, substantial work must be done within the next few years.
As indicated previously, the goals of this work should be to develop (1) a comprehensive, coherently organized review of human performance characteristics from the viewpoint of SE systems; (2) a theory that facilitates quantitative predictions of human responses to alterations in sensorimotor loops that are likely to occur in SE systems; (3) cognitive models that will facilitate effective design of VE systems for purposes of education, training, and information visualization; and (4) increased understanding of the possible deleterious effects of spending substantial portions of time in SE systems. The important issue of user comfort is partially addressed by item 2 in that feelings of discomfort such as those associated with simulation sickness constitute a particular type of response to alterations of sensorimotor loops. Many other aspects of discomfort, such as those related to poorly fitting helmets for visual displays, are best thought of purely in terms of physical effects.