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  The virtual humans generated using responsive virtual human technology (RVHT) go by many other names, including embodied conversational agents (ECA), intelligent agents, synthetic characters, and others. However called, they are used in diverse fields, both for gaming and for training and assessment. In these pages are some examples from one researcher's ongoing efforts. Specific situations addressed include:
  • Medical practitioners taking patient histories or interacting with children;
  • Law enforcement officers handling crisis situations involving mental illness; and
  • Military officers engaging with foreign civilians.

These efforts have addressed multiple research issues relevant for RVHT to reach the sophistication required for robust interaction skills training. Important questions that have been 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?
  • How can situations be presented to provided an authentic environment for—a situated assessment of—complex skills?

The research results have exposed 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.

 
 
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