The main purpose of this work is to investigate on the HRI issue based on recent RoboCup @Home competitions, in order to formulate an alternative research framework for HRI studies. Based on the survey of the current competition mechanism and benchmarking approach, and the analysis of the actual team performances, the shortcoming of current approach in motivating high level cognitive robot intelligence development is identified. A new proposal of an alternative research framework with HRI between virtual and real world is illustrated based on the SIGVerse system. The implementations of the research framework in various developments are discussed to show the feasibility of this framework in supporting HRI development. The level of abstraction in embodiment and multimodal interaction can be adjusted in the simulation based on the HRI requirements, to reduce the complexity from the integration problem. The framework is motivating subject experts to connect high level intelligence (e.g. dialogue engine, task planning) to low level robot control for "deeper" HRI. The HRI simulation is reproducible and scalable by the distributed system architecture that enables participation of a large group of human users (over the network/internet) and robots in a complex multi-agent multiuser social interaction.