It appears that HCI research in Japan is very similar to work in the United States and Europe. Although the difficulty of supporting the Japanese language in the interface, particularly for input, has obviously had an impact, the best research work is competitive with work going on anywhere.

As a percentage of total research effort, there seems to be much less basic research in Japan than in the United States or Europe. In addition, there is a surprising lack of empirical investigations of HCI systems. The major focus of activity is on development projects (especially in the areas of video, graphics, and speech technologies) rather than basic research. The JTEC panel saw basic research activities mainly in the area of fuzzy logic. While there is vigorous activity in speech recognition, most work appears to consist of application of existing techniques to the Japanese language. In contrast to the United States and Europe, there is more activity in the area of noncognitive interactions such as emotive expression. Finally, while Japan lags behind the United States and Europe, there is a growing interest in situated cognition and participatory design approaches to HCI.

At present there seems to be a growing realization of the importance of HCI by Japanese industrial labs, universities, and research funding organizations. Because the Japanese culture is highly integrated in terms of education, industrial cooperation, and funding, it is likely that a shared perception of the importance of HCI will lead to rapid and dramatic results.

Published: March 1996; WTEC Hyper-Librarian