Although emerging computer technologies impact every aspect of human resource management, there is a considerable gap between research focusing on the technological aspects of computer technologies, and the human resource impacts. This chapter focuses on emerging trends in computer technologies, and the human resource management implications of these technologies
While this chapter cannot address all of the current research in computer technologies and their impact on the human resource functions, some broad categories of research are discussed in the following sections: extended reality, ubiquitous computing, input/output devices, and intelligent agents.
Extended reality includes augmented reality, in which physical reality is supplemented by computer-generated images; and virtual reality, in which computer images replace physical reality. Augmented reality has been used in the medical field by providing visual “overlays” on patients’ bodies for doctors to use during biopsies, in aircraft maintenance, where workers are provided with goggles that can reproduce three dimensional drawings of aircraft components and diagnostic procedures during maintenance, and to augment objects in the real world through the use of graphical tags, such as bar codes or glyphs (Dimaio, Archip, Hata, Talos, Warfield, Majumdar, et al., 2006; Kerawalla, Luckin, Seljeflot, & Woolard, 2006; O’Donnell & Westin, 2005; Wiedenmaier, Oehme, Schmidt, & Luczak, 2003).
Virtual reality, once the stuff of science fiction, is now routinely used in training devices that simulate everything from hand-to-hand combat to submarine docking. Virtual reality is also found in distributed video-conferencing systems that embed live video and audio conferencing in a virtual space, in the classroom, where it is used to help students learn dynamic spatial relationships, in collaborative art exhibits, and in entire virtual cross cultural worlds with cross cultural agents (Allbeck & Badler, 2004; Dolisnky, Anstey, Pape, Aguilera, Kostis, & Tsoupikova, 2005; Shelton, 2004).
Ubiquitous computing, also known as pervasive computing, calm technology, and everyware, is based on the idea that users will need to be connected to their computer at all times (Coovert & Thompson, 2001; Greenfield, 2006). This ubiquitous connection might be through embedded computing, where computers are integrated into everyday life in an invisible way, or through mobile devices that the user can take everywhere (Feldman, Tapia, Sadi, Maes, & Schmandt, 2005; Merrill & Maes, 2005).
Mobile computing uses wireless technology to allow users to compute any place at any time, leading to the explosive development of mobile computing devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs). In 2007, de Sa, Carrico, and Antunes used a PDA-like device to develop supporting cognition outlines on psychological evaluation (SCOPE), which allows patients to accomplish their cognitive behavioral therapy tasks using mobile devices, and get assistance from the device whenever needed. Costanza, Inverso, Pavlov, Allen, and Maes (2006) recently developed a wearable display embedded in eyeglasses. The display delivers unobtrusive cues in wearers’ periphery without disrupting their immediate environment.