European Research: to measure being there

In science as in the arts a lot of research has been carried out that can be understood as presence research even though it has not been formulated as such. Since 1998 the European Commission has funded a special research programme on Presence with the objective "To develop novel media that convey the sense of "being there". A theory of presence, emerging from interdisciplinary research that explores the cognitive and affective roots of sensory perception is expected to give rise to the design of innovative systems that offer "richer" experiences (É) that allow humans to escape the boundaries of space and time for such purposes as communication, learning, entertainment, commerce, and remote actions." (European Commission, 1998).note 48

In the 5th, 6th and now 7th Framework of the European Commission, presence research has been funded in its own right. Researchers and programmers from all over Europe were invited to participate, a network was formed and since 1998 this network has been building a solid body of work. The network consists mainly of university departments of computer science, computer human interaction, psychology and social science.note 49

The work can be described in several ways. It consists of theory development, measurement development (subjective and objective), technology development, feedback assessments, research about perception, psychological research about consciousness, anthropological research about space and place, and more. The field has three areas of application: tele-operation, simulation and tele-communication. Presence research is part of the larger domain of computer human interaction, which already has a history spanning several decades. Presence research aims to make the mediated presence experience as 'real' as possible. It is therefore concerned with media research on the one hand and research into the properties of perception and consciousness on the other.