Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Vision, hearing and other senses

Studies of the biology and psychology of human vision, hearing and other senses, to underpin design and implementation of human-computer interfaces.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This area encompasses basic studies of the biology and psychology of human vision, hearing and other senses (especially touch), to underpin design and implementation of human-computer interfaces.

Studies of human vision can inform not only the design of displays but also new thinking in image and vision research. Studies of hearing can inform the design of improved speech recognition systems and studies of touch can inform the design of haptic interfaces to virtual environments.

For research to be considered by EPSRC, rather than other research councils, it is essential to link aims and objectives to the underpinning of information and communication technologies (ICT) design.

We will continue to support key capability, with the expectation that researchers will communicate and collaborate with other research areas to ensure impact in the ICT portfolio. Our aims are set out below.

Links across research areas

Links should continue to be demonstrated with the following research areas:

There will be stronger links between machine vision and human vision and perception researchers, to advance new insights into machine vision research.


Our portfolio will continue to contribute to scene understanding for robot vision (together with the Image and vision computing and Artificial intelligence technologies research areas) and in the development of haptic interfaces for robotics and for virtual environments

Vision and perception

Our portfolio will continue to strengthen links between Visualisation and Human-computer interaction, Psychology, and Vision, hearing and other senses, to inform and evaluate the way information is presented visually and in the multi-modal ways that humans have evolved to perceive.

Assistive technologies

We aim to have a portfolio where researchers make a strong contribution to healthcare with respect to development of Assistive Technologies for hearing and vision.

Contribution to cross-ICT priorities

Researchers in this area have a role to play in contributing to EPSRC’s cross-ICT priorities (especially the Cross-disciplinarity co-creation priority), in terms of shared identification and ownership of research challenges. They should also play a role in delivering the objectives of the Future intelligent technologies, People at the heart of ICT, and Data enabled decision making cross-ICT priorities.

Cross-council remit boundaries

We will maintain close internal and external communication about the remit of proposals at cross-research council boundaries, as this area crosses into the remit of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Why we're doing it


The current portfolio in this interdisciplinary area contains ICT-relevant research into psychological and biological aspects of human vision, as well as the psychophysics of human hearing and touch (haptics).

Psychology research in general is considered to be very strong in the UK, with face perception a leading area, and a thriving community includes a number of leading researchers. The UK is strongly represented at international conferences (particularly associated with vision science).

To have impact, research in this area needs to work across boundaries between disciplines. Funding for researchers has been maintained and is mostly concentrated in a small group of institutions, with the remainder spread across a wider number of universities.

Image and vision research

Vision, hearing and other senses research has the potential to be transformative, particularly where it interfaces with Artificial intelligence technologies and Image and vision computing research areas, and where ideas from biological literature have potential to shape new thinking and insights in the sphere of image and vision research.


This is an important area for advances in robotics and autonomous systems. It contributes to scene understanding in robot vision (together with Artificial intelligence technologies, and Image and vision computing research areas). It also contributes to better understanding of the effective design of haptic interfaces for robotics, and the design of haptic interfaces for virtual environments.

Information presentation

Visual perception studies are key to informing the design of video representations for transmission, search and retrieval of information, and in the design of other ways that information can be presented visually.

Assistive technologies

The area is important to Healthcare technologies research area with respect to the development of assistive technologies for hearing and vision.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for vision, hearing and other senses.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Last updated: 6 January 2023

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