condition control for the storage of fragile collections, while virtual olfactory displays
could be used to assist in the increasingly realistic presentation of VE's. Such applications
remain some distance away practically.
Mixed interfaces involve the stimulation of several sensory channels at the same time.
(See the discussion of brain-actuated control below.)
Wearable computers can act as standalone computers and need not just function as
communications devices.They combine several different technologies such as those
classed as Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's).
The importance of human interfaces
in cultural heritage institutions
The field of human interfaces develops so rapidly that dozens of new devices appear
on the market each year.This presents cultural heritage decision makers with the difficult
choice of whether or not to equip visitors or staff with new devices and, equally impor-
tantly, which devices to invest in. A strong impetus for introducing new interface devices
to cultural institutions would be to provide visitors with tools for:
- Observing collections which are currently not on display.This might be done at dif-
ferent levels of detail, and could involve a mix of traditional and new technologies.
Typical examples for this are multimedia kiosks involving use of touchscreens;
- Studying items subject to restricted access and handling guidelines.This may involve
specialised projection equipment, as well as equipment capable of providing tactile
stimuli, for example, a combination of HMD's and datagloves.
- Acquiring additional information on the items in the collection using multimodal
presentations that provide data that can be used to engage more senses;
- Creating personalised tours which could be used on future visits and for additional
study at home.This may also involve tracking or positioning technologies and stor-
ing this data for later reuse in generating personalised virtual visits.
The most typical applications are information kiosks in museums and self-service
machines in libraries, such as the online touchscreen catalogue in the main reading room
of the Library of Congress
. Additional benefits are noted where the introduction of
technology might be of help to disabled users, the very young, or the very old.
Where are new human-computer interfaces used?
Applications for innovative interfaces may be identified in virtually every sector of
industry, commerce, services and cultural heritage. Many technological novelties have
their genesis in military applications, and human interfaces are no exception.The poten-
tial for training in VE's that simulate potentially dangerous and/or expensive real world
environments are an obvious demonstration of this. Another typical application field is in
medicine, often referred to as tele-medicine. Interface improvements have been made in
the fields of information management, business applications, marketing and sales, finance,