without having a negative effect on typing speed and error levels. Devices such as the eye
mouse have a clear applicability for assisting disabled users in accessing new develop-
ments in technology.
The basic benefits of these new interaction devices lie in easier and less frustrating
communication between users and their machines. In the cultural heritage sector, the
possibility to `see' and `handle' objects virtually which are not otherwise available, and to
complement the comprehension of an exhibition with additional background informa-
tion organised as AR or VE, offers a multitude of new potential options. Such technology
could be used for research purposes and in the long-distance study of collections, which
may prove to be a significant plus point.
The effects of head-mounted display use in virtual environments may be of concern to
heritage decision makers. HMD's have been reputed to cause both short-term psychologi-
cal and long-term physiological problems. Experiments have been conducted which evalu-
ate the differences between use of HMD's, standard desktop monitors, and projection
screen displays.The results indicate that the highest levels of unpleasant symptoms are asso-
ciated with the use of HMD's, although when participants are not static but have active
control over their movement in the VE, they tend to feel better and report fewer problems.
It is reported that the use of HMD's may lead to physical difficulties such as posture
problems because of the additional load on the body. Sometimes users start supporting
the weight of the HMD using their hands. As is the case with many other types of
peripheral, the intensive use of data gloves may lead to repetitive strain-type injures. One
final note, which will be of particular relevance to organisations with significant numbers
of physical visitors, is that public use of some of this expensive equipment may pose
hygiene problems with the devices potentially becoming a home for bacteria transferred
from user to user.
Companies producing new equipment are constantly updating or modifying their
specifications.The physical discomforts caused by weight or unnatural and/or repetitive
movements will most probably be overcome in the near future.The most serious health
issues in the long run are those associated with physiological discomfort, sometimes
known as `simulator sickness', and hygiene issues raised by public use of the same device.
From an organisational point of view, the implementation of new equipment will have
to be carried out in such a way that users have difficulty accessing or modifying the file-
level content. Some organisations have had to allocate a staff member to minimise and
repair the damage to the file system caused by visitors. In any case, the introduction of
new equipment will necessitate a higher level of staff support, both for the visitors and
users of this equipment.