AUIC Keynote Speaker
Dr. Thomas A. Furness III

University of Washington

A Quest For The Ultimate Interface


Over a career of 40 years, Prof. Furness has been exploring and developing technology tools for getting bandwidth to the brain and between brains. His work as encompassed fighter cockpits, virtual reality, retinal displays, educational tools, medical simulators, pain, phobias, molecular modeling, scanning fiber endoscopes and entertainment systems. This quest has been punctuated with side trips and aha experiences that have led to unanticipated destinations. Dr. Furness plans to talk about his journey and its lessons learned and unexpected delights ... with an aim to inspire and entertain the conference.


Prof. Furness is a pioneer in human 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 a professor of Industrial Engineering and adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Technical Communication at the University of Washington. He is the founder of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) at UW and founder and international director of the HIT Lab NZ at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University, Prof. Furness served a combined 23 years as an Air Force 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 Defense. 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 in 1989.

Dr. Furness lectures widely, teaches courses in virtual reality and user interface design and supervises graduate students. He is the inventor of the personal eyewear display, the virtual retinal display, the HALO display and other display and interface technologies. Recently Dr. Furness received the Discover Award for Technology Innovation for his invention of the Virtual Retinal Display. He is also an Erskine Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

The overall mission of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory is to empower humans by building better interfaces to advanced machines that will unlock the power of human intelligence and link minds globally. The HIT Lab consists of 100 members including faculty, professional staff, students and visiting scholars. The Lab is supported in part by the Virtual Worlds Consortium, a group of 48 companies who provide funding and in-kind annual contributions to the research agenda of the Laboratory. The work of the HIT Lab encompasses the development of hardware and software technologies, human factors and applications development associated with advanced interfaces with a focus on virtual reality. The HIT Lab has also spun off 23 companies as result of technology and student transitions from the University of Washington. Dr. Furness has served on several boards of these companies.

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