The past, present, and future of virtual and augmented reality research: A network and cluster analysis of the literature

Pietro Cipresso*, Irene Alice Chicchi Giglioli, Mariano Alcañiz Raya, Giuseppe Riva

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista

128 Citazioni (Scopus)


The recent appearance of low cost virtual reality (VR) technologies - like the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and the Sony PlayStation VR - and Mixed Reality Interfaces (MRITF) - like the Hololens - is attracting the attention of users and researchers suggesting it may be the next largest stepping stone in technological innovation. However, the history of VR technology is longer than it may seem: the concept of VR was formulated in the 1960s and the first commercial VR tools appeared in the late 1980s. For this reason, during the last 20 years, 100s of researchers explored the processes, effects, and applications of this technology producing 1000s of scientific papers. What is the outcome of this significant research work? This paper wants to provide an answer to this question by exploring, using advanced scientometric techniques, the existing research corpus in the field. We collected all the existent articles about VR in the Web of Science Core Collection scientific database, and the resultant dataset contained 21,667 records for VR and 9,944 for augmented reality (AR). The bibliographic record contained various fields, such as author, title, abstract, country, and all the references (needed for the citation analysis). The network and cluster analysis of the literature showed a composite panorama characterized by changes and evolutions over the time. Indeed, whether until 5 years ago, the main publication media on VR concerned both conference proceeding and journals, more recently journals constitute the main medium of communication. Similarly, if at first computer science was the leading research field, nowadays clinical areas have increased, as well as the number of countries involved in VR research. The present work discusses the evolution and changes over the time of the use of VR in the main areas of application with an emphasis on the future expected VR's capacities, increases and challenges. We conclude considering the disruptive contribution that VR/AR/MRITF will be able to get in scientific fields, as well in human communication and interaction, as already happened with the advent of mobile phones by increasing the use and the development of scientific applications (e.g., in clinical areas) and by modifying the social communication and interaction among people.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)2086-N/A
RivistaFrontiers in Psychology
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • Augmented reality
  • Computational psychometrics
  • Mathematical psychology
  • Measurement
  • Psychology (all)
  • Psychometrics
  • Quantitative psychology
  • Scientometrics
  • Virtual reality


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