National Science Foundation Supports Virtual Human Technology

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - RTI has received a $2.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate responsive virtual human technology (RVHT) applied to interaction skills training. Responsive virtual human technology (RVHT) is used in diverse fields (computer generated forces, manufacturing, medicine, theater), but not for interaction skills training. Yet interaction skills are critical for medical practitioners, law enforcement officers, airport security screeners, and military personnel who interact with refugees. RTI already has deployed similar technology in the form of a virtual trauma victim for training and skills maintenance among emergency medical personnel. RTI has released various scenarios covering accidents and violent crime, and within weeks will release scenarios covering chemical exposures and bioterrorist attacks. Development of the virtual trauma victim and the scenarios were funded by the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, and RTI. In addition, at the North Carolina Justice Academy, RTI also has deployed a virtual human application that allows police officers to interact with a virtual mentally disturbed individual. The NSF-funded project will address multiple research issues relevant for RVHT to reach the sophistication required for robust interaction skills training. Important questions to be answered include: ·How is behavior modeled under normal conditions (i.e., a calm adult) and derivative conditions (e.g., anger, schizophrenia, pain, childhood)? ·What expressions, gestures, movement, and other behaviors will users interpret as serene, angry, schizophrenic, pained, or childlike? ·What skills can be acquired, practiced, and validated using RVHT? What is involved in providing a convincing simulation of human interaction where acquired skills transfer to a live environment? The research results will expose a range of additional training and educational opportunities, such as interviewing risky behavior and presenting rare, traumatic events. Combinations of RVHT-based training and instructor-led training offer significantly reduced training development and delivery costs, and increased student throughput, while maintaining training effectiveness and consistency. Information for this story was gathered from RTI.
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