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Human Simulation and Virtual Environments


A/Prof Gunther Paul, Ph.D.
James Cook University
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine
Mackay Base Hospital
Mackay, QLD 4740, Australia
Phone: +61 7 4885 7156

Email: gunther.paul@jcu.edu.au

WissD Dr. Sascha Wischniewski
Head, Unit Human Factors, Ergonomics
Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA)
Friedrich-Henkel-Weg 1-25
D-44149 Dortmund, Germany
Email: wischniewski.sascha@baua.bund.de

Contact Dr. Gunther Paul for more information or to join this Technical Committee
Email: gunther.paul@jcu.edu.au


Human Simulation (HS) and Virtual Environments (VE) have nowadays matured from research into industrial application. Nevertheless, a large potential for further development is remaining. With regard to human simulation, digital human models (DHM) have become commonly used tools in virtual prototyping and human-centered product design. They support the ergonomic evaluation of new product designs during early design stages of a product by modeling anthropometry, posture, motion or predicted discomfort. The future of DHM will be dominated by CAE methods, realistic 3D design, musculoskeletal and soft tissue modeling through to the micro-scale molecular activity within single muscle fibers. Important aspects of current DHM research are functional analysis, model integration and task simulation. Digital/virtual/analytic prototypes (DMU) provide better support of testing and verification and consider task dependent performance and motion. Beyond rigid body mechanics, soft tissue modeling will become a standard in future DHM. When addressing advanced issues beyond anthropometry and biomechanics, modeling of human behaviors and skills needs to be integrated into DHM. Ongoing projects have addressed a more comprehensive human model by implementing perceptual, cognitive, and performance models, representing human behavior on a non physiologic level. Through integration of algorithms from the artificial intelligence domain, the vision of a virtual human might become true.

The committee’s second topic, Virtual Environments (VE) is closely connected with DHM, subsuming methods and technologies used for a natural and intuitive human-computer interaction by presenting computer-generated objects in a realistic manner, sometimes combining real and virtual environments (augmented reality). VE has its application mainly in product design, training, tele-operation, entertainment and education. On the other hand, VE remains an ergonomic topic on its own. VE serve as advanced human-system interfaces and facilitate immersive human-system interaction. Ergonomic issues arise from the technology, and research addresses questions such as human immersion, object perception and presence, human-system performance and simulator sickness.


  1. To increase and foster the awareness of ergonomics in the development of HS&VE technology.
  2. To identify ergonomics issues in HS&VE with a special focus on digital human modeling and simulation, as well as human-computer interaction by means of VE and augmented reality.
  3. To provide information about the topic to ergonomists and the general public, and to promote the relevance of ergonomics to actors in domains addressing VE and digital human modeling, e.g., product design, interaction design, engineering, marketing, and management.
  4. To organize an annual HS&VE symposium.
  5. To support the triennial IEA congress with a HS&VE presentation track.


Currently, the TC has 480 members from all over the world, primarily Europe, North America and Asia.

The TC meets once a year, typically in connection with an ergonomics conference or a related activity.

The TC supports the annual symposium on digital human modeling, focusing on the latest research findings and industrial applications of Digital Human Models

Action Plan

Activities Description Responsible Milestones
Organize symposium at IEA 2018 congress
Multi session symposium planning and review
G. Paul
S. Wischniewski
According to congress program
According to congress program
Organize and conduct annual symposium on Digital Human Modeling
Exchange and publish state-of-the-art knowledge about digital human models (DHMs)
T. Alexander
S. Wischniewski
C. Schlick
G. Paul
July 2017, Bonn, GER
DHM Interface Standardization
Standard for Interface between different DHMs
G. Paul
Web2.0 exchange of ideas and specification of program plan
Organize TC Meeting (in combination with DHM symposium 2017)
Organize formal TC meeting for reporting, information exchange and definition of working plan
G. Paul
S. Wischniewski
See DHM 2017 symposium website
July 2017, Bonn, GER
VE ergonomic studies database
Collect lessons-learned from VE studies and make them available to IEA members
T. Alexander
DHM ergonomic studies database
Collect lessons-learned from DHM studies and make them available to IEA members
T. Alexander