The ergonomics of virtual reality: Human factors in developing clinical-oriented virtual environments

G. Riva, G. Mantovani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Virtual Reality (VR) is usually described as a collection of technological hardware: a computer capable of 3D real-time animation, a head-mounted display, data gloves equipped with one or more position trackers. However, this focus on technology is disappointing for clinicians interested in developing virtual environments to be used in assessment and therapy. To overcome this limitation this chapter describes VR as an advanced communication tool: a communication medium in the case of multi-user VR and a communication interface in sigle-user VR. Two are the core characteristics of VR as communication tool: the perceptual illusion of nonmediation and the sense of community. The first characteristic of a satisfying virtual environment is the disappearance of mediation, a level of experience where both the VR system and the physical environment disappear from the user's phenomenal awareness. The second characteristic is the sense of community developed by interaction. Through interaction made possible by multi-user VR, individuals find or form groups that share interests. So, information exchange becomes the carrier for expressing self-concept and eliciting emotional support. Within this view, experiencing presence and telepresence does not depend so much on the faithfulness of the reproduction of 'physical' aspects of 'external reality'-which is also a social production, and not a primitive or 'natural' fact-as on the capacity of simulation to produce a context in which social actors may communicate and cooperate. The consequences of this approach for the design and the development of clinical oriented VR systems are presented, together with the methodological and technical implications for the study of advanced human-computer interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Health Technology and Informatics
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Event7th Conference on Medicine Meets Virtual Reality, MMVR 1999 - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 23 1999Jan 23 1999


Other7th Conference on Medicine Meets Virtual Reality, MMVR 1999
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA


  • Communication
  • Ergonomics
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Multi-user VR
  • Presence
  • Single-user VR
  • Virtual Reality
  • VR development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


Dive into the research topics of 'The ergonomics of virtual reality: Human factors in developing clinical-oriented virtual environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this