The principal points of contact for this proposal are given below.
HITLabUS Thomas A. Furness III, Ph.D.
Professor & Director
Human Interface Technology Laboratory
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Voice: (206) 685-8626
Fax: (206) 543-5380
National University of Singapore Adrian David Cheok, Ph.D.
Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Mixed Reality Laboratory
National University of Singapore
Voice: +65 9389 1911
Fax: +65 6341 0518
Appendix A: HIT Lab Background
A.1 HIT Lab Origins: Prof. Tom Furness
The original Human Interface Technology Laboratory (hereafter designated the HITLabUS) was founded by Professor Tom Furness in Sept 1989 at the University of Washington. At that time Prof. Furness had completed 23 years of working for the US Department of Defence where he had become a pioneer in virtual interface technology and virtual reality. He received the BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Duke University and the Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science from the University of Southampton, England. Dr. Furness is currently Professor of Industrial Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering and Technical Communications at the University of Washington, and is the Founding Director of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the Washington Technology Center.
Prior to joining the faculty at the University, he served a combined 23 years as an officer and civilian at the Armstrong Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he developed advanced cockpits and virtual interfaces for the Department of Defence. He is the author of the Super Cockpit program and served as the Chief of Visual Display Systems and Super Cockpit Director until he joined the University of Washington in 1989. Dr. Furness has lectured widely, teaches courses in virtual reality and interface design and supervises graduate students. He was the founding co-editor with Thomas Sheridan of the MIT Press Journal Presence and is the co-editor with Professor Woodrow Barfield of a book published by Oxford University Press titled: Virtual Environments and Advanced Interface Design. He is the inventor of the virtual retinal display and other display and interface technologies and is a winner of the 1998 Discover Award for Technological Innovation.
Prof Furness has recently completed the first major franchise of HitLabUS with the establishment of HitLabNZ .(A more complete CV for Prof. Furness is contained in Appendix C1.)
A.2 HIT Lab US overview The first Human Interface Technology Laboratory (here after referred to as HIT Lab US) was established in 1989 by Professor Thomas Furness III. The Lab occupies about 10,000 sq. ft. of space in Fluke Hall (see Figure 1) on the Campus of the University of Washington. Fluke Hall is the home of the Washington Technology Center, a State of Washington agency dedicated to encouraging economic growth of the State via development and transition of technology resulting from University research. The Washington Technology Center provided the seed funding to help establish HIT Lab US.
Figure A.2.1: Fluke Hall-home of the HIT Lab US
The mission of the HIT Lab US is to develop interfaces between people and machines that unlock the power of human intelligence and link minds. Lab projects encompass medicine, education, design and entertainment applications with an emphasis on the design and development of virtual and augmented reality interfaces.
Since its inception the HIT Lab US has grown into a multidisciplinary research environment of about 100 people including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty associates, professional staff and visiting scholars. Students and faculty come from the College of Engineering (Industrial Eng., Electrical Eng., Computer Science & Eng., Bioengineering, Civil and Environmental Eng., Aerospace & Aeronautical Eng. And Technical Communications), College of Education, College of Architecture & Urban Planning, College of Arts & Sciences (Psychology, Geography, Art, Drama, Music, Physics), UW Medical Center (Urology, Dermatology, Radiology, Rehabilitation Medicine, Ophthalmology, General Surgery, Biostructures, Otolaryngology, Psychiatry) and the Harborview Medical Center.
The Lab is now supported in part by the Virtual Worlds Consortium, a group of 48 companies or organizations that provide funding and direction to the Lab. These companies include Boeing, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Eastman Kodak, Chevron, Nike, Intel, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Ford Motor Company plus many others. Members of the Consortium meet semi-annually at the HIT Lab US site in a workshop format and review progress on projects and determine future directions. Other support is provided by the Washington Technology Center, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Circon, Microvision, and Seattle Art Museum. Table A.2.1 gives a current list of the Virtual Worlds Consortium members associated with the HITLabUS.
A thrust of the HIT Lab US is to develop and transition technology to industry. In addition to licensing technology to established companies, the HIT Lab US has spun off or helped to start 23 companies over the past 13 years. Most of these companies are still in operation and two are public companies traded on NASDAQ (i.e. Microvision Inc. and F5 Networks Inc.)
The technology developed at the HIT Lab has been astounding. One of their flagship inventions has been the virtual retinal display (VRD), where the normal TV screen has been replaced with a photo beam that scans an image directly on the retina of the eye (see Figure 2). This technology has also been shown to help people with low vision problems to see more clearly. The VRD is currently under commercial development by Microvision Inc.
Figure 2: Prof. Furness viewing optical breadboard of the virtual retinal display
Another recent development is the MagicBook that allows people to read normal text through a special viewfinder along with viewing ‘pop-up’ worlds that can be entered…like crawling into the book (see Figure 3). In the past they have also developed an ultimate endoscope and surgery simulators.
Table A.2.1: Virtual Worlds Consortium Members (HITLabUS)
Advanced Telecommunications Research (ATR)
Alias | wavefront
American Express Co.
Armstrong Aeromedical Research Laboratory (AAMRL)
The Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP)
Chevron Petroleum Technology Company
Eastman Kodak Company
Ford Motor Co.
Industrial Technology Research Institute
Institute for Information Industry
Marconi Aerospace Systems Inc.
Museum of Flight
Rockwell Science Center, Inc.
Sense8 | EAI
U.S. West Communications
Additionally the Lab conducts research on pain alleviation and treating phobias and has developed exhibits for the Seattle Art Museum and Museum of Flight and is currently working on an interactive exhibit for a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Central America. Other research is exploring how to teach complex subjects to K-12 students using virtual reality.
Figure A.2.3: Demonstration of the MagicBook
The HIT Lab US research has been featured in the international TV media including recent programs on Scientific American Frontiers, NOVA, Horizon and Tomorrow’s World. The Lab received two prestigious Discover award for Technology Innovation for the development of the Virtual Retinal Display, and again for the MagicBook technology and was recently awarded the Satava Award for their work in bringing new virtual interface technology to medicine.
The keys to the HIT Lab’s success have been the great students and faculty who work there. The UW provides an enormous talent base to draw from in working on problems that are pervasive in our society. The Lab members have a strong sense social responsibility-so they develop technology, not for technology’s sake, but to help make the world a better place.
Ultimately, the greatest products of the Lab are the students. The HIT Lab provides an exhilarating environment for project-based learning that spans many disciplines, and as a result the graduates of the Lab typically are in great demand by industry and academia.
A.3 HIT Lab NZ The Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) was established in April 2002 as a joint venture between the University of Washington (UW), the University of Canterbury (UC) and the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC); a regional economic development agency.
The Lab was franchised from HIT Lab US and is set up to act as an economic development engine to create spin-off companies, jobs, attract foreign research investment, transition technology to local industry, create patents, train highly skilled graduates and build a bridge between academia and industry.
The Director of HIT Lab NZ is Associate Professor Mark Billinghurst. Professor Billinghurst completed his PhD at HIT Lab US during which he developed the MagicBook technology, which won him a Discover Magazine Award. He is supported by four other staff members at the Lab working in research, technology support and marketing roles and over 20 researchers from other departments at the University of Canterbury.
HIT Lab NZ is housed in the centre of the University of Canterbury campus in Christchurch. It works with a number of departments at the University to provide an entrepreneurial project based learning environment for students. The Lab now has 11 postgraduate and undergraduate students working in the Lab from Computer Science, Psychology, fine arts and Mechanical Engineering.
The HITLabNZ has also organized a Virtual Worlds Consortium using the model of the HITLabUS Consortium. Listed in Table A.3.1 are the current NZ consortium members. The NZ and US are given reciprocal membership in each others consortia.
Table A.3.1: Virtual Worlds Consortium Members (HITLabNZ)
ARANZ - Applied Research Associates NZ Ltd
Jade Software Corporation Ltd
Mobile Surgical Services
Pulse Data International
Trimble Navigation NZ Ltd
Appendix B: Pacific Edge Technologies Pacific Edge Technologies(PET) is a new enterprise development company with Larry Podmore and Chris Pickrill as principals and Prof Tom Furness and Assoc. Prof. Mark Billinghurst as Principal Technology advisors. PET is working in the Asia Pacific region developing and implementing transformational science and technology projects.
Its key focus are large scale Public and Private partnerships that transcend country borders. As well as managing the Hitlab brand and franchise establishment, PET is developing a digital trade route between New Zealand and Seattle.
After a distinguished career in Media both in the public and private sector, over the past five years Larry Podmore has become New Zealand’s leading science and technology economic development practioner . His experience in the development of HITlabNZ provides an excellent base to transfer that experience in nurturing the development of HITLabSG and HITlab Asia Pacific.
Appendix C: Curriculum Vitae of Principal Individuals C.1 Thomas A. Furness III THOMAS A. FURNESS III
Professor and Director
Human Interface Technology Lab, Box 352142
Voice: (206) 685-8626
Industrial Engineering Program, Box 352650
Fax: (206) 543-5380
University of Washington
Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science, University of Southampton, England, 1981. Dissertation: “The Effects of Whole Body Vibration on the Perception of the Helmet-Mounted Display”.
Graduate Studies in Electrical Engineering, Ohio State University, 1967 - 1970.
B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Duke University, 1966.
2003 – Present International Director (HIT Lab New Zealand)
Adjunct Professor, University of Canterbury, Christchurch NZ
1989 - Present Professor, Industrial Engineering
Adjunct Professor, Electrical Engineering (1993-present)
Adjunct Professor, Technical Communications (1996-present)