The title of this book owes more than it should to marketing. Multimedia and virtual reality (VR) are media-friendly terms that may have caught your eye, so if you are browsing the preface before deciding whether to buy this book, here is my explanation of its motivation and contents. It is primarily a summary of the research I have done over 10 years in multimedia and VR, which fits within my wider interest of exploiting psychological theory to improve the process of designing interactive systems. I have tried to make the text accessible to designers, students, and researchers, with as few assumptions about prerequisite knowledge as possible; however, in curriculum terms, student readers would benefit from an introductory course in human-computer interaction (HCI) before progressing on to this book.
The subject matter lies firmly within the field of HCI, with some crossreferencing to software engineering (SE) because I believe that HCI and SE should be integrated components in the development process. Indeed, the terms user interface and human-computer interface are probably responsible for this false separation; I prefer designing interactive systems, which does not differentiate the user interface as a special entity. Although I am taking a system-wide view, there is only minimal treatment of the technology, system architecture, or history of either multimedia or VR in the following chapters. History can be finessed for interactive technology, which, apart from Ivan Sutherland's pioneering work (Sutherland, 1963), is less than 10 years old. Sutherland invented many of the elements of what we now call virtual reality, including 3D immersive graphics projected from head-mounted displays. There are plenty of books that cover these topics, and I do not intend to duplicate their coverage. Furthermore, the pace of technical change is accelerating so I don't think there is much point in describing the merits of devices that may have become obsolete by the time you read this book.
About the Author
Alistair Sutcliffe is Professor of Systems Engineering at the Department of Computation, UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) and Director of the Centre for Human Computer Interface Design. He is principal investigator on current EPSRC projects SIMR CORK and ISRE, and on several completed European Union and UK projects on multimedia user interfaces, requirements engineering, safety critical systems and cognitive modelling. He researches in Human Computer Interaction and Software Engineering, takes a leading role in organizing INTERACT and SIG-CHI conferences, and is on the editorial boards of International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Requirements Engineering and Journal of Automated Software Engineering. Alistair Sutcliffe is founder and chair of IFIP TC-13 Working Group 13.2 Methodology for User Centred Design, and is editor of the forthcoming ISO standard 14915, on Multimedia user interface design. He has over 150 publications including four textbooks and several edited volumes of papers. Among the former is The Domain Theory: Patterns for Knowledge and Software Reuse, published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates in 2002.