the client. Recently, however, the company for which Henry works received some large contracts to design virtual spaces for use in virtual worlds. Apparently, the large amounts of time now being spent in virtual spaces, combined with the limitations of computer scientists in their abilities to design virtual spaces that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing, are leading to a new market for architectural firms. However, this new market is of no interest to Henry; in fact, it increases his desire to switch fields. Unfortunately, when he scans the job opening information available to him on his SE network, he finds that the most common type of opening involving interaction with the real world concerns the installation and maintenance of SE systems.


Although some of the technologies assumed in our visions of the future are already available and others are the subject of current research, these visions are without doubt visions of the future, not the present. In this section, we briefly depict the current state of the SE field. We begin by describing the application areas that are currently receiving the most attention. We then discuss a number of topics in the field of psychology relevant to the design, use, and evaluation of SE systems and the human component of these systems. Next we summarize the status of the associated technologies that make SEs possible: the interfaces used to link the machine and the human operator, the computer hardware and software used to generate VEs, the telerobots used in teleoperator systems, and the communication networks used to integrate multiple SE systems. The section ends with a brief assessment of the SE evaluation efforts to date. More detailed information on most of these topics can be found in the chapters of the report.

Application Domains of SE Systems

The range of potential applications for SE systems is extremely large. Application domains currently receiving considerable attention include: (1) entertainment, (2) national defense, (3) design, manufacturing, and marketing, (4) medicine and health care, (5) hazardous operations, (6) training, (7) education, (8) information visualization, and (9) telecommunication and teletravel.

The entertainment domain is serving both as a massive informal test bed and as a major economic driving force for the development of new VE technology. Although some of this technology can be expensive (particularly that associated with the entertainment of large groups), on the whole the VE technology associated with the entertainment industry is "low end." For example, the head-mounted displays being used for entertainment

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