The research and technology that is relevant to the SE field covers an enormous range because of the many disciplines involved, the multimodal aspects of most SE systems, and the wide variety of potential SE applications. Thus, the topics covered in this part are not all-inclusive; they have been selected because they were judged to be relatively crucial by the committee.
The chapters in this part, the heart of the report, mirror the topics in the overview. Specifically, we present detailed information on psychological considerations (Chapter 1) and on the available research and technology involved in the creation of synthetic environments (SE) including human-machine interfaces (Chapters 2-7), computer generation of virtual environments (VEs) (Chapter 8), telerobotics (Chapter 9), networks (Chapter 10), and evaluation (Chapter 11). Much of the material in Chapters 2-7 applies to all kinds of systems (including augmented-reality systems). Chapter 8 is directed specifically toward VE systems, and Chapter 9 covers teleoperator systems.
It should also be noted that the visual channel is treated differently from the other channels and appears in more than one place. The material on the visual channel in Chapter 2 is restricted rather rigorously to human-machine interface issues. However, because most previous work by computer scientists on the computer generation of VEs has focused on the visual channel (i.e., graphics), Chapter 8, which deals with these hardware and software issues, is necessarily focused mainly on the visual channel. In order to obtain a comprehensive overview of the visual channel, it is necessary to read both Chapters 2 and 8.
In contrast, for the auditory, haptic, and other channels, for which the majority of past work has been performed by individuals from other disciplines and has been directly concerned with interface issues (or issues traditionally lumped together with such issues by these individuals), essentially all of the relevant material is contained within each chapter.
It should also be noted that our descriptions of the various channels differ in the extent to which previous knowledge on the part of the reader is assumed. For example, because it is expected that most readers are less familiar with issues related to haptic interfaces than those related to auditory interfaces, more general information is provided.
In principle, the chapter on networks (Chapter 10) is relevant to both VEs and teleoperators; however, most current activities in this area are directed toward the networking of VE systems rather than teleoperator systems. Furthermore, even within the domain of VEs, relatively little attention is being given to the communication of signals required for haptic interactions. These factors too, like those mentioned above, are reflected in the way in which the material is presented.