CES Watch: Magic Leap is Finally Leaping into Reality

Augmented Reality is a hot topic as we head into CES and 2018, and there’s one startup that’s shaking up the emerging AR/VR landscape, and it’s not even available yet—nor is it augmented or virtual reality, but its own hybrid Mixed Reality. That startup is none other than Magic Leap.

Google and Alibaba have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Magic Leap, and David Nelson, creative director of the MxR Lab at USC Institute for Creative Technologies told Rolling Stone that the technology “is moving us toward a new medium of human-computing interaction. It’s the death of reality.”

VR Can Enhance Military Training and Treat Trauma

FedTech Magazine explores VR potential for the military. Read the full story here.

Science & Technology Futures Initiative (SciTech Futures)

Download a PDF preview.

The Science and Technology Futures Initiative (SciTech Futures) is an ASA(ALT) funded research project that helps Army leaders ideate in the S&T space while identifying blind spots in Army planning. Not only is the Army acquisition process expensive, but traditional ideation and war gaming techniques, specifically in-person events, are not scalable. SciTech Futures seeks to address these issues by tapping into the wisdom of the crowd with targeted exercises focusing on topics of interest to Army S&T leadership. This broadens the participant pool and expands the number of analyzable ideas at the Army’s disposal.

To accomplish this, ICT leverages in-house game design and narrative expertise, SMEs within the US Army and USMC, and contacts across academia. ICT has the unique ability to translate and synthesize concepts between these cross- disciplinary fields. ICT’s SciTech Futures platform is web-based, allowing participants to contribute ideas from any PC or mobile device.

The SciTech Futures project consists of three main thrusts:

• Online collaborative ideation platform and exercises
• In-person workshops
• Compelling narrative storytelling

Online collaborative ideation platform
The SciTech Futures online platform can quickly be tailored to foresight topics in support of Future Army Warfighters. Recent exercise topics include “Sustainment and Logistics in the Urban Environment” and “Operationalizing Artificial Intelligence for Multi-Domain Operations,” both targeting the 2035 time horizon. Players contribute ideas based on targeted prompts, themes, and questions, collaborating in a virtual workshop setting where they collectively improve ideas.

In-person workshops
The SciTech Futures in-person workshops further develop the ideas that emerge from the online platform. These workshops bring together US Army and USMC SMEs, Hollywood writers, game designers, and Academic researchers to focus on world building. Ideas are developed using both operational and narrative approaches to imagine the environments and technologies that will be used by and against the Future Warfighter. These workshops enable a richer analysis of the technologies and concepts that emerged in the online arena.

Compelling narrative storytelling
The SciTech Futures project’s narrative and creative work highlights the most relevant ideas from the in-person workshop and online platform, helping to visualize and crystalize concepts, trends, and technologies by grounding them in near-future, real-world scenarios. This narrative work, which has taken the form of short stories and graphic novels, has been published in Small Wars Journal and the TRADOC Mad Scientist Blog.


US Army-Funded Technology Wins Oscar

ADELPHI, MD. (December 17, 2018) – Creative geniuses behind digital humans and human-like characters in Hollywood blockbusters Avatar, Blade Runner 2049, Maleficent, Furious 7, The Jungle Book, Ready Player One and others have U.S. Army-funded technology to thank for visual effects.

That technology was developed at the U.S. Army Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. The ICT is funded by the U.S. Army RDECOM Research Laboratory, the Army’s corporate research laboratory (ARL).

Developers of that technology were recently announced winners of one of nine scientific and technical achievements by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A Technical Achievement Award will be presented at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills on February 9, 2019 to Paul Debevec, Tim Hawkins and Wan-Chun Ma for the invention of the Polarized Spherical Gradient Illumination facial appearance capture method, and to Xueming Yu for the design and engineering of the Light Stage X capture system during the Academy’s annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation. The Scientific and Technical Academy Awards demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.

“Polarized Spherical Gradient Illumination was a breakthrough in facial capture technology allowing shape and reflectance capture of an actor’s face with sub-millimeter detail, enabling the faithful recreation of hero character faces. The Light Stage X structure was the foundation for all subsequent innovation and has been the keystone of the method’s evolution into a production system.” The new high-resolution facial scanning process uses a custom sphere of computer-controllable LED light sources to illuminate an actor’s face with special polarized gradient lighting patterns which allow digital cameras to digitize every detail of every facial expression at a resolution down to a tenth of a millimeter.

The technology has been used by the visual effects industry to help create digital human and human-like characters in a number of movies and has scanned over one hundred actors including Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Zoe Saldana, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, and Dwayne Johnson at USC ICT.

Additionally, the Light Stage technology assists the military in facilitating recordings for its Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program through a system called The Digital Survivor of Sexual Assault (DS2A). DS2A leverages research technologies previous created for the Department of Defense under the direction of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and allows for Soldiers to interact with a digital guest speaker and hear their stories. As part of the ongoing SHARP training, this technology enables new SHARP personnel, as well as selected Army leaders, to participate in conversations on SHARP topics through the lens of a survivor’s firsthand account. It is the first system of its kind to be used in an Army classroom.

All four awardees were members of USC ICT’s Graphics Laboratory during the development of the technology from 2006 through 2016.

Paul Debevec continues as an Adjunct Research Professor at USC Viterbi and at the USC ICT Vision & Graphics Lab. Wan-Chun “Alex” Ma was Paul Debevec’s first Ph.D student at USC ICT and Xueming Yu joined the USC ICT Graphics Lab in 2008 as a USC Viterbi Master’s student. Tim Hawkins now runs a commercial light stage scanning service in Burbank for OTOY, who licensed the light stage technology through USC Stevens in 2008.

This is the second Academy Sci-Tech award being given to the Light Stage technology developed at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. The first, given nine years ago, was for the earliest light stage capture devices and the “image-based facial rendering system developed for character relighting in motion pictures” and was awarded to Paul Debevec, Tim Hawkins, John Monos, and Mark Sagar.

Established in 1999, the Army’s ICT is a DoD-sponsored University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) working in collaboration with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. UARCs are aligned with prestigious institutions conducting research at the forefront of science and innovation.

The ARL is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.


VR Can Benefit Mental Health in Real Life

Helping patients with post-traumatic stress disorder confront their fears is often more complex than simulating a generic high-rise or spider. One system that provides a broad menu of fear cues to patients with PTSD, created by VR therapy developer Albert “Skip” Rizzo and colleagues at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, helps people suffering from post-traumatic stress after military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continue reading.

VR/AR Are Not Future Tech – They’re Already Reshaping the World

CIO Applications writes about industries where VR/AR technology is being implemented and how it’s helping to push boundaries, featuring some of ICT’s research.

Read the full article here.

3 Ways Tech Helps Heal the Mind and Body

Mixed-reality experiences developed at USC use immersive technology to help humans deal with conditions ranging from injuries to PTSD.

Continue reading in USC Trojan Family Magazine.

How Will the U.S. Military Use the Hololens on the Front Line?

In the near future, U.S. soldiers could be relying on Microsoft’s mixed reality Hololens technology to give them the edge. Last week, Bloomberg News reported that Microsoft had won a US $480 million contract from the U.S. Army for prototypes of a system that could result in the Army ordering 100,000 headsets, potentially for use in active combat.

IEEE Spectrum’s Stephen Cass asked David Krum, associate director of the MxR Lab at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), about how the technology might be used more widely. Though ICT is a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored research center that studies immersive technologies, the Institute is not involved with the latest Hololens initiative.

Continue reading.

Virtual and Mixed Reality at the Nexus of SciFi, Engineering, and Training

IEEE sits down with ICT’s MxR Lab to discuss virtual and mixed reality, and how these technologies assist in the fields of STEM, engineering and military training.

Watch the full video here.

Faces of Basic Research: Professor Jonathan Gratch

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research interviews Jonathan Gratch for their spotlight on basic research.

Watch here.


December 4-7, 2018
Tokyo, Japan

I/ITSEC 2018

I/ITSEC 2018
November 26-30, 2018
Orlando, FL

Pinscreen Releases Deep Learning Model

Shiropen features new research from Pinscreen, University of Southern California, and USC Institute for Creative Technologies showcasing a deep learning model “paGAN (photoreal avatar)” which can create a 3D avatar for a mobile terminal from one input face image and can control via its own expression.

The full paper outlining new research can be viewed here.

In Focus: Using Virtual Reality to Face the Realities of PTSD

Spectrum Local News talks with ICT’s Skip Rizzo about Bravemind.

Check out the full segment here.

Researchers Determine That Reading Stories Increases Empathy

Research carried out by a team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) has revealed that reading stories proves to be a universal experience that may promote empathy in people regardless of cultural differences and origins. The research published in Human Brain Mapping has identified the brain activity patterns of people who completely understand stories in their native language.

As part of the study, the scientists examined more than 20 million blog posts featuring personal stories through a software created by experts from the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. Forty blog entries were subsequently chosen and translated into Mandarin Chinese and Farsi. The blog entries, which featured stories such as divorce and lying, were then read by 90 American, Chinese, and Iranian respondents in their native language. The researchers also scanned the respondents’ brains while reading, and asked the participants a few questions thereafter.

Continue reading in Natural News.

Army Accelerating Synthetic Training Environment Programs

The synthetic training environment, or STE, is a next-generation paradigm for enhancing readiness. The Army plans to use a combination of gaming, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and other technologies to better enable soldiers to improve their skills, said Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, deputy commanding general of the Combined Arms Center-Training.

Continue reading in National Defense Magazine.

What’s Creative?: “Hi, I’m Ellie.”

A look at Ellie and the use of virtual humans in helping to treat symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress, via What’s Creative?

Alexa Could Become Your Therapist As Experts Make Smart Speakers Judge Emotions

The Australian Review covers Judith Shulevitz’s piece about AI capabilities in connected devices.

Continue reading for more insight from ICT’s Jonathan Gratch.

Modeling & Simulation

The Modeling and Simulation Group creates immersive and informative experiences that help Warfighters and supporting elements improve performance.

With advanced prototypes such as Captivating Virtual Instruction for Training (CVIT) or DisasterSim, learners can hone life-saving skills wherever they are. With One World Terrain capabilities, military decision-makers can experience a seamless, realistic geospatial foundation when executing their training. Researchers are advancing these capabilities to support an authoritative representation of the planet that will be usable in next-generation military training systems.

The M&S Group employs researchers, domain experts, creative writers, and professional game designers in order to develop content that is as engaging as it is instructive. It has successfully transitioned a number of its advanced prototypes to the DoD, most recently with its rapid 3D terrain capture and reconstruction pipeline, which is a pillar of the Marine Corps’ Tactical Decision Kit (TDK).







2018 Color and Imaging (CIC) Conference

2018 Color and Imaging (CIC) Conference
November 12-16, 2018
Vancouver, Canada

Healing the Invisible Wounds of War with Virtual Reality

The RAND Corporation’s Invisible Wounds of War study estimates that as many as one in five who’ve seen battle experiences PTSD, which—if left untreated—can rip apart lives with nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, anger, guilt, and feelings of isolation.

Since 9/11, nearly three million service members have deployed to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan—about half of them more than once.

Now, an innovative, evidence-based approach to treating PTSD is reaching more veterans than ever before. Called “virtual reality exposure therapy,” it heals by transporting the veteran back to the traumatic war event, into a computer-generated, parallel universe created in a Southern California lab.

Continue reading on the RAND Corporation website.

3.5 – VR: What’s Possible in Reality?

Dell Technologies talks with Skip Rizzo and other industry insiders about VR and capabilities for the future.

Listen to the full podcast here.

SEMDIAL (AixDial) 2018

SEMDIAL (AixDial) 2018
November 6-11, 2018
Marseille, France

IVA 2018

IVA 2018
November 5-8, 2018
Sydney, Australia

Seeing is Believing: The State of Virtual Reality

The Verge writes an in-depth piece about the history of virtual reality.

Continue reading.

Happy with a 20% Chance of Sadness

Researchers are developing wristbands and apps to predict moods—but the technology has pitfalls as well as promise. ICT’s Jonathan Gratch talks with Scientific American about these technologies and what it means for our future.

The Future of Mental Diagnosis and Treatment – Artificial Intelligence

The stuff we see in science fiction movies about artificial intelligence is slowly becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fiction of yesterday is fast becoming the fact of today. Medium discusses how the technology is being adopted and what artificial intelligence can currently do in medicine.

AAMC 2018

AAMC 2018
November 2-6, 2018
Austin, TX

Virtual Reality Therapy Has Real-Life Beenfits for Some Mental Disorders

Skip Rizzo talks with Science News about Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy.

Continue reading.

Tech Papers: The Secret to SIGGRAPH Asia Success

Hao Li talks with VFX Blog about what it takes to write a winning paper at SIGGRAPH Asia.

Continue reading.

Magic Leap Conference Videos Dive Deeper into Medical, Audio, & AR Cloud Uses for Magic Leap One

Just a day after releasing an initial set of three panels held at the free event for registered attendees, Magic Leap has posted an additional five videos that give developers, creators, and end users a deeper understanding of what the company is moving toward as a platform.

Perhaps the most fascinating video is the session devoted to using the Magic Leap One for medical purposes. One presentation, delivered by Skip Rizzo, the director of the Medical Virtual Reality lab at University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT), and Arno Hartholt, the director of R&D integration at USC ICT and CTO at HIA Technologies, exposed the audience to a Magic Leap app called VITA (virtual interactive training agent).

Continue reading.

EMNLP 2018

EMNLP 2018
October 31-November 4, 2018
Brussels, Belgium

AI Project Aims to Improve Negotiation Skills

USC’s Daily Trojan talks with Emmanuel Johnson about new research aimed at improving negotiation skills.

Continue reading.

Building the World of ‘Blade Runner 2049’

Digital Media World explores the production of Blade Runner 2049.

Continue reading.

What Are the Advantages and Issues of Artificial Intelligence in Terms of Study

AppRobust explores the pros and cons of artificial intelligence, featuring research from ICT.

Continue reading.

Army to Release New Squad Advanced Marksmanship Trainer

Over the next year, 26 installations are scheduled to receive the new Squad Advanced Marksmanship Trainer — with the first potential location slated for Fort Drum, New York, officials said.

The Army has been working on a squad-immersive environment since 2009, but limitations on virtual reality and other related technologies have hindered the development process, according to Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, director of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team.

Continue reading on the U.S. Army website.

VR Days

VR Days
October 24-26, 2018

How Virtual Reality Is Transforming Autism Studies

Proponents of VR argue that no other medium comes as close to putting you in someone else’s shoes. “Having a perceptual experience — that’s something we haven’t been able to do without VR,” says Albert “Skip” Rizzo, research professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a pioneer of using VR in psychiatry. “You can watch a movie, but it’s different than walking around and having your perceptual experience,” Rizzo says.

Continue reading in Spectrum News.

AI’s Potential to Diagnose and Treat Mental Illness

Harvard Business Review explores AI solutions that help in diagnosing and treating mental illness, mentioning ICT’s Ellie as a potential aid in the process.

Continue reading.

Amazing AI Advances in Education: Benefits and Controversies

AI can help digitize textbooks and create customizable “smart” content for students of all age ranges, helping them with memorizing and learning. Virtual characters and augmented reality can be powered by AI to create believable social interactions such as those experimented with by the University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies. These virtual environments can be used to assist students in their endeavors and learning process, or as substitutes for tutors, lecturers and teaching assistants. No one can ever work all day and night and provide students with 24/7 responses… unless he or she is a robot, of course!

Continue reading in Techopedia.

After Decades of Silence, Anne Frank’s Step-Sister Speaks Up

The author of three books, Schloss travels often to tell her story. She was interviewed by the Steven Spielberg-founded Shoah Foundation project and participated in a hologram project sponsored by the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. The holograms answer questions posed to them.

Outfitting Avatars To Cross The Uncanny Valley

Science Friday interviews Hao Li about the big challenges for creating photorealistic avatars, and how face-swapping technology threatens our perception of what’s real in the news.

Watch the full segment.

AAAI 2018 Fall Symposium on a Common Model of the Mind

AAAI 2018 Fall Symposium on a Common Model of the MindOctober 18-20, 2018
Arlington, VA

The New Reality of Mixed Reality

Tech Well Insights explores new mixed reality experiences, including VITA for Magic Leap One.

Read the full article here.

Hate Negotiating? There’s a Virtual Human for That.

By Sara Preto

Fall ’18

Emmanuel Johnson, a Fulbright Scholar and computer science Ph.D. working with USC Viterbi’s Jonathan Gratch, is collaborating with researchers from the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and others sponsored by the National Science Foundation, to examine how “virtual humans” might aid real humans in the subtle art of negotiation. The goal is to provide a personalized and low-cost approach to training.

“This research is personal to me,” said Johnson, explaining that his native Liberia still suffers the effects of past negotiations gone wrong. For instance, a 1926 deal with the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company deal gave Firestone one million acres of Liberia’s rich tropical forest for 99 years — at an annual rate of six cents.

“If Liberia had had better negotiators who could see how unfair this deal was for the country, things might have turned out differently,” Johnson said. “The work we’re doing provides a system to help countries like Liberia. People learn how to negotiate so that others can’t take unfair advantage of them.”

Negotiations happen in almost every social and organizational setting, from reducing monthly bills and haggling over the price of a car, to discussing the terms of a job offer. Still, few people actually like to bargain, and the self-study guides, courses and training programs designed to improve one’s skills are expensive.

“One of the common misconceptions people have is that a negotiation must be a zero-sum game in which one party loses at the expense of another winning,” Johnson said. “Often that’s not the case. If negotiators take the time to learn what their opponent wants, they might be able to see that their interests are different and that an agreement is possible.”

The team has been collaborating with USC Marshall’s Peter Kim to better understand how people approach negotiation, the best way to present material to students and how to provide feedback during the process.

When might virtual humans make their public debut?

“I don’t think we’re far,” Johnson said. “However, there is work to be done in helping machines better understand and reason with humans, something we are actively addressing in our work.”


October 16-20, 2018
Munich, Germany

U.S. Army Invests in Virtual Reality Training

The U.S. Army considers virtual reality training as an important path ahead to prepare warfighters.

Central to STE is a cloud-enabled One World Terrain (OWT) that will let warfighters conduct virtual training and complex simulations anywhere on a virtual representation of the Earth. OWT will leverage cloud technologies to deliver to the point of need, ensuring a common and high-fidelity whole-Earth terrain representation for a multitude of different simulation systems.

Continue reading in GPS World.

ICMI 2018

ICMI 2018
October 16-20, 2018
Boulder, CO

Can a Computer Headset Cure Your Fear of Heights?

Daily Mail explores the many uses of VR and how the technology can be helpful for a variety of reasons.

Read the full article here.

Inside Magic Leap’s Over-the-Top Developer Conference

PC Magazine interviews ICT’s Dr. Skip Rizzo at Magic Leap’s conference for developers.

Read the full article here.

New Virtual Marksmanship and Squad Immersive Trainers are Headed to Dozens of Army Locations Next Year

At the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting, Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, who serves both as the director of the Army’s Synthetic Training Environments Cross-Functional Team and deputy commanding general of the Combined Arms Center-Training, laid out some immediate hits on the virtual training front while also talking about long-term goals for the programs.

The squad immersive trainer has been a concept the Army’s pursued since at least 2009, but much of the hardware and software needed to make it a reality simply didn’t exist at the time, Gervais told the audience.

Continue reading the full article in ArmyTimes.

Virtual Reality Isn’t Just for Video Games Anymore

The Skidmore News discusses a recent visit from ICT’s Skip Rizzo, read the full article about his talk and research here.

USC ICT and The Dan Marino Foundation Partner with Magic Leap to Deliver Spatial Computing Experience for Individuals with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities

Next-generation virtual human job interview practice system soon available on Magic Leap One.

For more information, please contact Sara Preto, 310-301-5006, preto@ict.usc.edu.

Studies show that young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may experience challenges in finding employment. Though young adults with ASD are often high educational achievers and have the ability to work, the United Nations estimates that more than 80% are unemployed.

In a new partnership between Magic Leap, the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies and The Dan Marino Foundation, collaborators have developed a tool using mixed reality that helps young adults with ASD overcome an important obstacle they may face entering into the workforce — in-person job interviews. The Virtual Interactive Training Agent (VITA), now in mixed reality on Magic Leap One, is a virtual simulation job interview practice system that builds competence and reduces anxiety.

“The partnership with Magic Leap and The Dan Marino Foundation gave us the opportunity to push the limits of spatial computing technology for a really important pro-social purpose,” said Albert “Skip” Rizzo, director of Medical VR for USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies. “VITA was designed to help those who need it most to practice job interviews in a safe and controlled environment, allowing them to get more comfortable over time and reach their full potential. The application of technology in this way could serve to improve the employment opportunities for persons on the Autism Spectrum and we are excited about expanding our work in this direction for other groups who could benefit from this approach.”

VITA provides the opportunity for ASD users to repetitively practice job interviewing in a safe simulated environment. While it is recognized that many persons with ASD have the necessary capabilities for success in vocational activities, many report that the process of engaging in a job interview is anxiety provoking, as well as socially and verbally challenging; these factors may limit their success in job seeking situations and aid to the high unemployment rate.

“Working with Magic Leap and The Dan Marino Foundation has been a great experience,” said Arno Hartholt, director of R&D Integration for USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies. “We got our first prototype up and running very quickly, so that we could collaboratively explore how to get the most out of this new computing platform. It’s still early days, but the potential for how this kind of technology can help people is enormous.”

“The systems being developed through our partnership with USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies and now Magic Leap are game changers for the future of young adults with Autism and other disabilities,” said Mary Partin, CEO of The Dan Marino Foundation. “Over the past four years employment rates for Marino Campus students are averaging 72%. The Dan Marino Foundation is now expanding this technology in working with youth in the Juvenile Justice system where employment is a factor in reducing recidivism.”

“At Magic Leap, we strive to impact lives and make a difference – that’s why we’re so excited about this collaboration. We see this as the first step of many in taking action to help empower those individuals with Autism or other developmental disabilities in each step of their journey with valuable life skills. We hope that this technology can help level the playing field and be an enabling tool to improve quality of life and humanity,” said Brenda Freeman, Chief Marketing Officer at Magic Leap.

VITA offers a variety of possible job interview role-play interactions supporting the practice of job interviewing skills across a range of challenge levels and allows for customizable training geared to the needs of the user. VITA for Magic Leap One will be available soon.


The USC Institute for Creative Technologies develops award-winning advanced immersive experiences that leverage groundbreaking research technologies and the art of entertainment to simulate human capabilities. Influencing the trajectory of technological exploration and advancement, USC ICT’s mission is to use basic and applied research that benefits learning, education, health, human performance, and knowledge.

The Dan Marino Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization was established by Dan and Claire Marino, motivated by their experiences in raising their son, Michael, who is diagnosed with Autism. For over 26 years, the Foundation has been a leader in innovation and change, “empowering individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities.” The Foundation has raised more than $72 million to create unique and impactful initiatives in the community. Among these first-of-their-kind initiatives are the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Outpatient Center, the Marino Autism Research Institute, Marino Adapted Aquatics, Summer STEPS Employment Programs, Virtual Interactive Training Agent Program (ViTA-DMF), and now post-secondary programs at both Marino Campus in Broward and at FIU in Miami-Dade. For more information, please visit  danmarinofoundation.org, marinocampus.org  or ViTADMF.org.

Is Alexa Dangerous?

Why would we turn to computers for solace? Machines give us a way to reveal shameful feelings without feeling shame. When talking to one, people “engage in less of what’s called impression management, so they reveal more intimate things about themselves,” says Jonathan Gratch, a computer scientist and psychologist at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, who studies the spoken and unspoken psychodynamics of the human-computer interaction. “They’ll show more sadness, for example, if they’re depressed.”

Continue reading in The Atlantic.

How to Teach Against Hate? Lean on Genocide Survivors

Teaching tolerance through survival, a piece from Trojan Family magazine.

The Advanced Imaging Society Announces Distinguished Leadership Award Recipients

Receiving awards for Technology will be Apple Inc for ProRes Raw codec, IBM Watson computer incorporating AI, DreamWorks Animation openVDB Data Structure System, NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics cards, Google VR “Welcome to Light Fields,” Cisco for its broadcast production virtualization system, Cinionic/Barco for its HDR Light Steering Cinema Projector, the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies’ HDR-image based lighting, The Mill for its Mascot real-time animation system, Mach 1 for its spatial sound system workflow, Positron for its Voyager chair for immersive experiences, Survios Electronauts VR music creation tool, RYOT for its Yahoo Mail AR, Felix and Paul for their dynamic projection workflow for stereoscopic 360-degree live video, and Secret Location for its Vuser Spark technology for content rights management. The annual awards are sponsored by Dell and Cisco.

Continue reading on BusinessWire.com.

‘Body Computing’ Turns Healthcare into Lifecare

As founder of USC’s Center for Body Computing (CBC), Dr. Leslie Saxon’s mission is to make sure ‘patients have a dog in the fight’ as they use tech to shift healthcare to ‘lifecare.’ We talked to her ahead of this week’s CBC annual conference.

Continue reading in PC Magazine.

Synthetic Training Environment and the Digital Revolution in the Army

What makes the Synthetic Training Environment truly revolutionary and disruptive is the “how” as much as the “what” of it. Much like the name environment suggests, the STE is comprised of a common One World Terrain, or OWT; Training Simulation Software, or TSS; Training Management Tools, or TMT; and common user interfaces that will change the entire ecosystem of simulation training capabilities. To better understand how, we can look at another technical revolution.

Continue reading about STE and One World Terrain on the U.S. Army website.

USC Puts AR in La Brea Tar Pits

The La Brea Tar Pits, which is part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, has partnered with USC to incorporate augmented reality into their exhibits. The museum would use this new technology as a tool to help correct misconceptions that are common among visitors.
When first arriving to the museum, visitors are greeted by a large muddy lake, that is seemingly filled with tar. In it, are life-sized replicas of three mammoths. One has its long trunk in the air and seems to be struggling to break free of the gooey tar. The other two, an adult and baby, look on attempting to help.
Continue reading in USC’s Annenberg Media.

ICT’s Adjunct Professor Paul Debevec Named Visual Effects Fellow

Visual effects veterans Craig Barron, Joyce Cox, Dan Curry, Paul Debevec and Mike Fink are set to become Visual Effects Society Fellows during an Oct. 11 reception in Beverly Hills.

Continue reading the full article in The Hollywood Reporter.

Visual Effects Society Announces 2018 VES Fellows

Paul Debevec is one of this year’s VES fellows, read about the award in Animation World Network and Studio Daily.

USC Partners with La Brea Tar Pits on Augmented Reality and Education

In a new partnership between USC and the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, which include the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, researchers will try to understand how best to design AR experiences for effective learning.

The project is funded by a new grant from the National Science Foundation totaling $2 million.

The research will compare learning and engagement from visitors interacting with various versions of an AR experience that differ in visual immersion (touchscreen vs. low-cost 3D headset) and interactivity (selecting vs. manipulating virtual objects).

Emily Lindsey, assistant curator and excavation site director for the La Brea Tar Pits, and Benjamin Nye, the director of learning science at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, are the principal investigators. Gale Sinatra, the Stephen H. Crocker Professor of Education Psychology at the USC Rossier School of Education, and William Swartout, chief technology officer for USC ICT, are co-principal investigators.

Continue reading in USC News.

The Ultimate Physician’s Assistant

Forbes explores emerging artificial intelligence (AI) innovations transforming the healthcare ecosystem today—from automated MRI imaging for early cancer detection to DNA sequencing for targeted drug development. Continue reading the full article, mentioning groundbreaking research from ICT, here.

Museum, USC Create AR Experiences at La Brea Tar Pits

Woolly mammoths may be extinct, but visitors at the La Brea Tar Pits will get to see one up close. By partnering with USC, the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County will introduce a new augmented reality experience to transport patrons back in time.

The USC Institute of Creative Technology partnered with the USC Rossier School of Education after taking an interest in how the La Brea Tar Pits presented natural history within Los Angeles.

Continue reading in the Daily Trojan.

Advanced Imaging Society Unveils 2018 Technology Lumiere Award Honorees

The AIS Technology Award program annually acknowledges and celebrates technologies and processes demonstrating both innovation and impact in advancing the future of the entertainment and media industries including but not limited to theatrical, television broadcast, video, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, stereoscopic 3D, themed attractions, and other forms of relevant content.

ICT has been honored for its HDR-image based lighting. Continue reading for the full list of winners.

Why Robots That Look Too Human Make Some People Uneasy

An increasing number of robots are being created and designed to work side by side with humans, in a human environment. That means robots have to be structured like a person, because some of them have to walk and sit like a person. Some robots are even being designed to look human.

But seeing an android, a robot that looks human, can make some people uneasy. That growing unsettling feeling or phenomenon as robots begin to look more like human beings is called the “uncanny valley.”

Even researchers who work on robots are not immune to it.

“I know how they work. I know they’re just machines, but something about something that looks like a person but doesn’t quite move like a person is disturbing,” said Jonathan Gratch, director for virtual human research at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies.

Continue reading on VOANews.com.

ICT Wins AIS Tech Award

The Advanced Imaging Society will recognize 15 honorees during its 9th annual Technology Lumiere Awards, which will be held during December in Hollywood, including ICT for its HDR-image-based lighting.

For more information, visit The Hollywood Reporter.

Natural History Museum Partners with USC for Augmented Reality Experiences at La Brea Tar Pits

Discoveries from the iconic excavation site will be the linchpin in an effort to understand how to most effectively use a technology growing in popularity.

A recent boom in augmented reality (AR) technology is leading educational institutions to explore new ways of teaching, where virtual scenes are mixed with real-life locations and objects. However, more research is needed in order to understand when and how AR can be leveraged to increase knowledge rather than merely entertain visitors.

In a new partnership between the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (which includes the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum) and University of Southern California, researchers will seek to understand how best to design augmented reality experiences for effective learning. The project is funded by a new grant from the National Science Foundation totaling $2 million. This research will compare learning and engagement from visitors interacting with various versions of an AR experience that differ in visual immersion (touchscreen vs. low-cost 3D headset) and interactivity (selecting vs. manipulating virtual objects).

Emily Lindsey, assistant curator and excavation site director for the La Brea Tar Pits, and Benjamin Nye, the director of learning science at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, are the principal investigators. Gale Sinatra, the Stephen H. Crocker Professor of Education Psychology at the USC Rossier School of Education, and William Swartout, chief technology officer for USC ICT, are co-PIs.

A key aspect of the project is to use AR to provide additional information about what visitors see to help dispel misconceptions. “Augmented reality offers a powerful medium to share how science happens at the La Brea Tar Pits,” Nye says. “AR can show hidden worlds connected to what you would normally see with your eyes, such as seeing the pits in different time periods. These can tell the story of not just what we know, but how we know what we know.”

Located in the heart of metropolitan Los Angeles, the La Brea Tar Pits are among the world’s most famous fossil localities. Opened to the public in 1977, the La Brea Tar Pits Museum served 418,000 visitors last year year with displays of Ice Age fossils from asphaltic deposits, as well as with live demonstrations of the paleontology process. With a vast collection of millions of fossils, the La Brea Tar Pits constitute an unparalleled resource for understanding environmental change in Los Angeles during the last 50,000 years of Earth’s history.

The new partnership will draw on USC’s expertise in technology, design and student engagement and the Natural History Museum’s expertise in paleontology and content-rich exhibits to create an experience that will help museum visitors engage with the scientific process, in order to both improve understanding of science and reduce scientific misconceptions. Under the partnership, visitors to the museum will explore AR time portals where they gather evidence to distinguish between competing hypotheses and update their own hypotheses as they find new evidence.

“Certain scientific concepts, like the nature of geologic time, have historically been difficult for people to wrap their minds around,” Lindsey says. “This partnership allows us to explore the ways that new, immersive technologies can help people understand and connect with these concepts more fully.”



The USC Institute for Creative Technologies develops award-winning advanced immersive experiences that leverage groundbreaking research technologies and the art of entertainment to simulate human capabilities. Influencing the trajectory of technological exploration and advancement, USC ICT’s mission is to use basic and applied research that benefits learning, education, health, human performance, and knowledge. This work is a collaboration between the USC ICT Learning Science and Mixed Reality (MxR) groups.


The mission of the USC Rossier School of Education is to prepare leaders to achieve educational equity through research, policy and practice. Consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best education schools by U.S. News and World Report, USC Rossier draws on innovative thinking and collaborative research to improve learning opportunities and outcomes, address disparities and solve the most intractable problems in education.


The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is one of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, which also includes the Natural History Museum and the William S. Hart Museum. The asphalt seeps at La Brea represent the only consistently active and urban Ice Age excavation site in the world. This makes the campus a unique site museum–where fossils are discovered, excavated, prepared and displayed in one place. Outside, the remains of plants and animals trapped during the last 50,000 years ago are revealed in active excavation sites. Inside, visitors see the next step of the process, as scientists and volunteers clean, repair and identify these discoveries in the transparent Fossil Lab. The museum then displays the final result: extraordinary specimens of saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and mastodons, as well as fossilized remains of microscopic plant remains, insects and reptiles.

ECCV 2018

ECCV 2018
September 8-14, 2018
Munich, Germany

Army Improving Integrated Training Environments for Aviators

To better prepare aviators for the future fight against a near-peer adversary, the Army is working to improve live, virtual and constructive training environments.

Continue reading about the Synthetic Training Environment and One World Terrain on the U.S. Army site.

Can Technology Help You Live Longer?

BBC Click investigates, interviewing ICT’s Ari Shapiro about preserving the likeness of human beings.

Watch the full segment here.

International Conference on Disability and VR

International Conference on Disability and VR
September 4-6, 2018
London, UK
Keynote Presentation

iFEST 2018

iFEST 2018
August 26-29, 2018
Alexandria, VA

Director for Cognitive Architecture Research at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies Honored for Contributions in the Artificial Intelligence Community

Paul S. Rosenbloom of USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies and Viterbi School of Engineering has won the 2018 Herbert A. Simon Prize for Advances in Cognitive Systems, for the development of the Soar cognitive architecture, including its application to knowledge-based systems and models of human cognition. Additionally, Rosenbloom has been recognized for his contributions to theories of representation, reasoning, problem solving, and learning.

The Herbert A. Simon Prize for Advances in Cognitive Systems recognizes scientists who have made important and sustained contributions to understanding human and machine intelligence through the design, creation, and study of computational artifacts that exhibit high-level cognition.

Rosenbloom works with John E. Laird and the research community to develop a Common Model of Cognition (aka a Standard Model of the Mind), which instead of providing one detailed hypothesis concerning the structure of a human-like mind, is attempting to capture the best current consensus concerning what should be in such a model. His research addresses multiple facets of high-level cognition and he has been a strong advocate of the cognitive systems movement.

Herbert A. Simon’s abiding concern with high-level cognition in humans and machines drives the initiative in celebrating groundbreaking ideas about high-level processing and their potential for understanding the mind. The annual award is sponsored by the Cognitive Systems Foundation, which contributes a cash prize of $10,000, and is co-sponsored by the Herbert Simon Society.



August 20-26, 2018
Santa Fe, NM

Virtual Reality in the Medical Field

Today, VR is being used in everything from marketing for business growth to education in primary schools. One of the often overlooked yet more incredible fields that VR shows potential in is the medical field. Virtual reality has greatly benefitted medical care, and as simulated technologies continue to develop, the possibilities for using VR in the medical field are endless. Renderosity Magazine explores three of the major ways in which virtual reality is transforming medical care: Rehabilitation and Therapy, Medical Education and Pain Relief.

Read the full article here.

Would You Seek Therapy From a Machine?

Would you talk to a computer therapist? ICT has built an AI interface for use in mental health settings. KCRW hears how it works and why it won’t likely replace real therapists, ever.

Listen here.

2018 ACS

2018 ACS
August 18-20, 2018
Stanford, CA

SIGGRAPH 2018: Deep Learning and Deep Fakes

A roundup of SIGGRAPH 2018 in FXPHD.com.

Cubic Motion Makes More Than Faces

Using Light Stages, 3D scanning technology developed by Paul Debevec’s team at USC’s Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) created a stunningly realistic model of O’Brien’s face for their “Meet Emily” video presentation and integrated it into a staged interview. The video effectively predicted the coming end of the uncanny valley.

Continue reading in Graphic Speak.

OC Fair Hits 2018 Attendance Record of 1.4M Visitors

The 2018 fair, which ended Sunday, Aug. 12, surpassed previous years in total guests – by 10 percent more than the 1.33 million fairgoers in 2017 – and its busiest day, July 28, drew 86,334 people, beating a single-day visitor record set in 2001.

Among the popular attractions this year was Heroes Hall, a tribute to military veterans now in its second year. Nearly 20,000 fairgoers passed through, and more than half of them tried out the “Bravemind” virtual reality exhibit, fair spokeswoman Terry Moore said. Visitors can expect another special military exhibit at the 2019 fair, she said.

Continue reading in the OC Register.


August 12-16, 2018
Vancouver, Canada


Meet the Chatbots Providing Mental Health Care

The Wall Street Journal takes an in-depth look at AI and chatbots, speaking with Gale Lucas for insight.

Read the full article here.

Here Come the Virtual Humans

PC Magazine interviews ICT’s Hao Li about his work and the future of virtual humans.

Read the full article here.

We Care Wednesday from KTLA

KTLA‘s Gayle Anderson visits the OC Fair and reminds viewers to stop by the Bravemind exhibit while summer’s still here.

A.I. at SIGGRAPH: Part 2. Pinscreen at Real Time Live

FX Guide interviews Hao Li ahead of SIGGRAPH 2018.

Read the full article here.

Higher Education Innovation: 25 Examples of Excellence

This article is brought to you in partnership with The Mission Daily and Vemo Education, highlighting 25 research institutes at the forefront of innovation, including ICT.

Read the full article here.

Artificial Intelligence Can Help Veterans Deal with the Trauma of War

VR is a powerful tool when it comes to recreating environments and being able to control parameters.

In the case of veterans, it allows a gradual transition from the stress of the warzone to civilian life.

This is what Crusades 22, a non-profit organisation providing integrative and complementary care for veterans and active soldiers with post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) is working on, in collaboration with Dr Albert Rizzo, director of the University of Southern Califonia’s Institute of Creative Technologies and several tech companies.

Continue reading.

Why Do Some Companies Have Humans Pretending to be Bots?

AI is hot. And it’s everywhere, from customer service apps and virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, to all manner of transportation apps and social media features. Government is no stranger to using AI either, whether it comes to surveillance, power and water systems, or predictive policing.

Government CIO Media investigates the many advantages AI has to offer, read more here.

Bravemind at Heroes Hall

KTLA’s Morning News visits Heroes Hall, as Gayle Anderson learns more about the Bravemind exhibit.

Watch here.

In the Foreground: SIGGRAPH 2017 Posters Graduate Winner

ACM’s SIGGRAPH Blog aught up with SIGGRAPH 2017 first-place ICT graduate winner Chloe LeGendre (whose recent research has been accepted to the SIGGRAPH 2018 Posters program) to learn about her experience.

Continue reading.

9th AHFE International Conference 2018

9th AHFE International Conference 2018
July 21-25, 2018
Orlando, FL
Keynote Session

From Sci Fi to Commercialization: The Rise of Digital Avatars

A lot of the fear and friction that come with asking for help, or the need to build trust with a stranger, are alleviated via visualizing therapy. Inhibitions melt away faster with a digital entity. In fact, an ongoing study within USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) is using virtual therapists to help veterans open up about their PTSD.

Continue reading in Medium.

Could VR Therapy Transform Mental Health Treatment?

Verdict researches how VR can be used in mental health treatments.

Read the full article here.

When Health Apps Meet VR

The use of smartphones and tablet devices in health care has generated much interest recently, with a rise in related apps changing the way that patients and health care professionals interact. Increasing numbers of healthcare professionals are using these technologies in the workplace, as well as large numbers of consumers, who are now more connected than ever to such apps that can help diagnose and improve symptoms, as well as boost drug compliance. PharmaTimes looks at various applications that use VR, featuring Bravemind as one possible tool to help treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Continue reading.

2018 HCII (Human Computer Interaction) Conference

2018 HCII (Human Computer Interaction) Conference
July 15-20, 2018
Las Vegas, NV

ACL 2018

ACL 2018
July 15-20, 2018
Melbourne, Australia

Why It’s So Hard for You to Stop Reading Books You Don’t Even Like

MSN writer Katie Heaney tries to understand grit, the type of personality that will persevere through anything, even a bad book, by talking with ICT’s Gale Lucas.

Read more here.

Revealing the Secret of CG Double in Logan

AnimationKolkata looks at the technology and process behind creating digital doubles in ‘Logan’.


July 13-19, 2018
Stockholm, Sweden


July 12-14, 2018
Melbourne, Australia

The Quantified Heart

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just about the ability to calculate the quickest driving route from London to Bucharest, or to outplay Garry Kasparov at chess. Think next-level; think artificial emotional intelligence.

Aeon explores the other ways in which AI is linked to us, specifically focusing on our emotional relationships.

California Virtual Reality Exhibit Provides Window into PTSD Treatment

Designed by USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, Bravemind is an interactive program clinicians use to slowly immerse veterans and military service members into virtual environments that relate to their traumatic experiences — but in controlled settings — as a form of treatment.

Continue reading in Stars and Stripes.

OC Fair Virtual Reality Exhibit Provides Window into PTSD Treatment

A new virtual reality experience at the OC Fair & Event Center offers insights into how researchers are using advanced technology to treat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Visitors to the Heroes Hall veterans museum can put on special goggles and headphones and enter the “Bravemind: Using Virtual Reality to Combat PTSD” exhibition when the Orange County Fair opens Friday.

Continue reading in the LA Times.

SeriousPlay Conference

SeriousPlay ConferenceJuly 10-12, 2018
Manassas, VA

AAMAS 2018

AAMAS 2018
July 10-15, 2018
Stockholm, Sweden

Virtual Reality Isn’t Just for Gamers Anymore; It Will Change Your Health

As virtual reality (VR) software becomes more sophisticated, users are able to interact with the environment through multiple senses. Our brains and bodies begin to experience the virtual environment as real.
How does VR work for healthcare?

A useful framework for understanding the application of VR in medicine and health has been proposed by one of the field’s leaders, Albert “Skip” Rizzo, PhD, of the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. Dr. Rizzo organizes applications into broad categories based on the underlying effects.

Continue reading the full article in Forbes.

Psychological Testing and Assessments Are Going High Tech

APA Monitor explores how technology is being used in psychological testing and assessments.

4 Ways Virtual Reality Will Disrupt Healthcare

Cox Communications includes ways in which healthcare will incorporate virtual reality technologies. Continue reading to see how pairing together VR and therapy, specifically using Bravemind in helping combat symptoms of PTS, will change the industry.

It’s Almost Time to ‘Free Your Inner Farmer’ at the Orange County Fair

This year’s Orange County Fair features tons of new food, attractions and entertainment. The LA Times Daily Pilot gives readers an overview of what not to miss, including the Bravemind exhibit at Heroes Hall.

VR Soon a Clinical Reality in Psychosis Care

While VR therapy is still in the early stages of research, the current evidence suggests it can reduce paranoia and improve sociability without significant risk of patients’ becoming detached from reality.

In many respects, Molly Porter is like any other human resources specialist conducting a job interview. She is dedicated, thorough, and knows the right questions to ask. The only difference is that Molly isn’t real; she’s a virtual avatar on a video monitor, and her function today is to help patients recovering from psychosis develop important social skills.

Continue reading in VR Room.

Nvidia GPUs Could Use AI to Power Next-Gen HairWorks Models in Future Games

Researchers from the University of South California, Pinscreen, and Microsoft have developed a hair rendering technique powered by deep learning. This neural network can render 3D hair models from only a 2D reference image, and is the first of its kind to work in real-time.

If you’ve ever turned on Nvidia’s HairWorks in games such as The Witcher 3 or Final Fantasy XV, you may well have noticed your in-game performance drops significantly – even if it’s just Geralt’s lovely mop on the screen. Rendering a couple hundred thousand individual strands of hair is no walk in the park.

Continue reading in PCGamesN.com.

Bravemind & OC Fair 2018

The countdown to the 2018 OC Fair has reached less than two weeks.

More than 1 million people are expected to check out this year’s fair with its carnival games and rides, food creations to make the most out of any cheat day, shopping, entertainment and so many animals for trying to catch a selfie with.

The OC Register covers the events of this year’s fair, featuring Bravemind at Heroes Hall.

Machine Learning for 3D Understanding

Machine Learning for 3D UnderstandingJuly 2-4, 2018
Munich, Germany

Bravemind Experience Opens at Heroes Hall

The LA Times Daily Pilot section features the new Bravemind exhibit opening at the Orange Country Fair’s Heroes Hall.

AEID 2018

AEID 2018
June 27-30, 2018
London, UK

Around Town: Heroes Hall Offers Preview of ‘Bravemind’ Exhibit

The public can get a peek this week of “Bravemind: Using Virtual Reality to Combat PTSD,” the newest exhibit planned for the Heroes Hall veterans museum in Costa Mesa.
The interactive exhibit will showcase the virtual reality technology that is being used to help treat and assess post-traumatic stress disorder for military service members and veterans.

The free preview will run Thursday through Sunday at Heroes Hall at the OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive. “Bravemind” will officially open with the start of the Orange County Fair on July 13. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. For more information, visit ocfair.com/heroes-hall.

Via LA Times – Daily Pilot.

SESAM Bilbao 2018

SESAM Bilbao 2018
June 27-29, 2018
Bilbao, Spain

University of Southern California and Other Announced a Method Using Deep Learning to Generate a 3D Model of Hair from One 2D Image

Researchers at the University of Southern California, USC Institute for Creative Technologies, Pinscreen, Microsoft Research Asia, published a method to more naturally generate hair 3D models from one 2D image using deep learning.

Continue reading from Seamless.

Learning@Scale: Fifth Annual ACM Conference on Learning at Scale

Learning@Scale: Fifth Annual ACM Conference on Learning at Scale
June 26-28, 2018
London, UK

Virtual Reality: Educating, Delivering Therapy & Facilitating Support

This piece for Medium features research and work highlighting the many uses of virtual reality.

Read more here.

ISLS 2018

ISLS 2018
June 23-27, 2018
London, UK

Mesoscopic Facial Geometry Inference Using Deep Neural Networks

80 Level looks at research from the Vision and Graphics Lab at ICT exploring a novel approach to synthesizing facial geometry.

Continue reading here.

CVPR 2018

CVPR 2018
June 18-22, 2018
Salt Lake City, Utah

Digital Human Project Started at Toei Token Institute

Toei Co., Ltd. Toku Institute announces that it will launch a special research team and introduce the latest version of LightStage, developed by ICT, which is a human face scanning system in order to fully tackle real human generation (digital human) at CG did. 

Continue reading here.

USARIEM Partners to Explore Using Virtual Humans to Measure Cognitive Performance

Army researchers from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, or USARIEM, have recently begun collaborating with ICT on developing and enhancing technologies that can be used to accurately and objectively detect degraded cognitive performance in Soldiers, allowing unit leaders and medics to be able to make informed mission decisions and assess who is operationally fit to fight.

Continue reading here.

The Future of VR/AR in Medical Fields, according to Experts

MoguraVR, based out of Japan, interviews ICT’s Arno Hartholt for his thoughts on how VR and AR will impact the medical field.

Continue reading here.

ITS 2018

ITS 2018
June 11-15, 2018
Montreal, Canada

New Study on Avatars Question the Influence of Virtual Clones

The gamer’s experience over the past decade has evolved tremendously and player-customized avatars, or virtual clones, are becoming more and more realistic every day. Previous analysis, for example, has shown that women prefer avatars that do not look like them. But have you ever wondered if the look of your Avatar was influencing your game and your decisions?

Continue reading about recent research from ICT and University of Illinois focusing on the likeness of avatars and how that might affect a gamer’s experience.

Realistic 3D Avatars From a Single Image

Digital media needs realistic digital faces. The recent surge in augmented and virtual reality platforms has created an even stronger demand for high-quality content, and rendering realistic faces plays a crucial role in achieving engaging face-to-face communication between digital avatars in simulated environments.

Continue reading in mc.ai.


NAACL HLT 2018June 1-6, 2018
New Orleans, LA

30th Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention

30th Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention
May 24-27, 2018
San Francisco, CA
Panel Participation

Holograms: Are They Still The Preserve of Science Fiction?

The Guardian explores 3D technologies and holograms, looking to ICT for for source inspiration.

Read the full article here.


May 22-24, 2018
Marco Island, FL

Computer Animation and Social Agents (CASA) 2018

Computer Animation and Social Agents (CASA) 2018
May 21-23, 2018
Beijing, China

In-Depth: Therapeutic VR In 2018 Is No Longer Just a Distraction

VR could soon be a resource in treating a different kind of recurring fear as well. Digital health therapeutic company Pear Therapeutics’ pipeline includes reCALL for PTSD, an immersive, experimental VR treatment that would be prescribed in conjunction with pharmaceuticals to reduce patients’ psychological trauma. So far, pilot studies have shown a “marked improvement” in PTSD scores among patients using the VR therapy compared to standard care alone.

Placing veterans or others with the condition back into a simulated version of a traumatic event might sound counterintuitive, but according to USC Davis School of Gerontology professor Albert “Skip” Rizzo, experiencing a version of the events in which they have greater control can provide a sense of resolution.

“Exposure therapy is an ideal match with VR,” Rizzo said during an NBC interview on the subject. “You can place people in provocative environments and systematically control the stimulus presentation. In some sense it’s the perfect application because we can take evidence-based treatments and use it as a tool to amplify the effect of the treatment.”

Continue reading in MobiHealthNews.

Data Is Improving Government Services, But at What Cost to Citizen’s Privacy?

Data now informs almost everything the public sector does, and it also informs on us.

ICT’s Todd Richmond provides insight on the issue for Government Technology’s ‘Go Public’ podcast.

IST Meeting of the Minds

IST Meeting of the Minds
May 18, 2018
Caltech Annenberg Center
Keynote Speaker: Hao Li

Why Technology for Physician Education is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

Technology continues to change the way healthcare professionals deliver care to patients, enabling faster collaboration and improving workflow processes. Thanks to mobile devices and processes, such as secure text messaging, organizations today are better equipped to provide quality support to individuals with fewer inconveniences or interruptions.

At the same time, digital tools are also evolving the way clinicians hone their craft. The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, for instance, uses telemedicine tools via Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) to connect university-based specialists with primary-care clinicians to allow for faster, more efficient knowledge sharing.

Telemedicine, though, represents just one of several ways technology is reshaping physician education.

For New Doctors, AR and VR Are Not Foreign Concepts

At the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, for instance, virtual and augmented reality are helping to train clinicians to “more skillfully handle delicate interactions with patients,” according to an article published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Skip Rizzo, director for medical virtual reality at the organization, says such tools allow doctors, nurses and others to “mess up a bunch” prior to working in the trenches for real.

Continue reading in HealthTech.

‘Yanny’ Versus ‘Laurel’ Debate Is the New ‘What Color Is the Dress?’ Meme

It’s the biggest debate of our time — or, at least, the biggest since the great “the dress” debate of 2015.

Is it “Yanny” or is it “Laurel”?

ICT’s Todd Richmond weighs on why people are hearing “Yanny” while others might hear “Laurel”. Continue reading in TheWrap.

Virtual Therapy, Real Results

Diversity in Action interviews Skip Rizzo about using virtual reality to help in the treatment and prevention of PTS symptoms.

Read the full article on page 10 in Diversity in Action‘s May/June 2018 issue.

IWSDS 2018

IWSDS 2018
May 14-16, 2018

Virtual Reality is Used to Enhance the Lives of Aging Soldiers

A technology that bloomed in the age of joystick-thumbing millennials is now providing “ooooh’s” and ear-to-ear grins to old soldiers born generations ago. And those entrusted with looking after the veterans say it is broadening their lives and enhancing their care.

Continue reading in Newsday.

IEEE Innovation Challenges Summit

IEEE Innovation Challenges Summit
May 11, 2018
San Francisco, CA
Keynote Presentation

Are Video Games Really Better When You Play as Yourself?

Ever dreamed of sprinting through a pixelated world, head-butting mysterious blocks, jumping on sentient mushrooms, and battling an evil turtle to rescue the princess?

Of course, you have. But not all dreams should come true.

A new study suggests virtual doppelgangers don’t necessarily improve video gameplay.

Researchers at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that photorealistic avatars have little effect on players’ performance.

Continue reading on Geek.com.

Would Super Mario Bros. be better if you could play as yourself? Well, not exactly.

New research suggests that avatar appearance may not make a difference to players in certain game contexts.

Contact: Sara Preto, (310) 301-5006 or preto@ict.usc.edu

The gaming experience over the last decade has evolved tremendously and player-customized avatars, or virtual doppelgangers, are becoming more realistic every day. Past studies have shown women may prefer avatars that don’t look like them but a new study by USC Institute for Creative Technologies and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows no gender difference or negative effect on player’s performance or subjective involvement based on whether a photorealistic avatar looked like them or like their friend.

The study is the latest to examine benefits to using self-similar avatars in virtual experiences, and builds primarily on a study by Gale Lucas that analyzed players’ performance and subjective involvement with a photorealistic self-similar avatar in a maze running game. Results showed effects based on avatar appearance as well as gender differences in participants’ experiences.

“In the previous work, we found that players felt more connected and engaged – and that their avatar was more attractive – when they navigated the game with a photorealistic self-similar avatar, compared to a photorealistic avatar that looked like a stranger,” said Gale Lucas, senior research associate for USC Institute for Creative Technologies.

“While previous research shows that male players also found that the game was more enjoyable with self-similar avatars, women if anything, enjoyed it more with a stranger’s avatar. However, we found no effects on performance. Although there were no performance benefits of self-similar avatars, we wanted to confirm that these subjective benefits of self-similar avatars were because they looked like the player, not just that they were familiar.”

Thus, to help researchers and game designers assess the cost-benefit tradeoffs of self-similar avatars, Lucas and co-authors Helen Wauck, Ari Shapiro, Wei-Wen Feng, Jill Boberg and Jonathan Gratch conducted an experiment inviting pairs of friends to visit the USC Institute of Creative Technologies lab for a full-body scan to be generated in photorealistic avatars. Shapiro, a USC Viterbi research assistant professor in computer science, is one of the pioneers of “fast avatar capture” that creates a photorealistic, 3D double of you in the span of 20 minutes. One of the friends in the pair was instructed to play a search and rescue game with their own avatar, and the other friend in the pair played the game with their friend’s avatar.

“By comparing people who played the game with their own avatar to those who played with their friends’ avatar, we could test the effect of self-similarity without confounding it with familiarity,” Lucas said.

Lucas also mentioned that because she and the team did not replicate the previous findings in this new study, those prior discoveries could have been due to familiarity rather than self-similarity per se. This suggests that having an avatar resembling someone you know personally may be just as good as having one that looks like you. So, rather than creating a personalized avatar for each member of a military troop or classroom, it may be enough to create one avatar that looks like someone in the group, and everyone in the group could benefit from it – compared to an avatar that looked like a stranger.

“We also found that women’s experiences with self-similar avatars was no more negative than men’s,” said Lucas. “This second study used even more high fidelity avatars than the previous study we ran, so it seems that with better rendering (e.g., of face, hair, hands), women no longer felt less enjoyment with their own avatar.”

The new findings reveal how important it is to carefully consider the extent to which high fidelity self-similar avatars align with the purpose and structure of an interactive experience before deciding whether it is worth the investment of time and money to implement.

The study was published on April 25th in The Proceedings of the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction.


Two Tech Startups Changing the World That Are Backed By Hollywood Actors

Business Insider features Bravemind in a post-Dell Technologies World 2018 story.

Continue reading to learn more about the project and its connection to Hollywood.

Virtual Reality Graded Exposure Therapy: The Paradigm Shift That Can Change Our Mental Reality

Corporate Wellness Magazine explores VRGET, featuring insight from ICT’s Dr. Skip Rizzo.

LREC 2018

LREC 2018
May 7-12, 2018
Miyazaki, Japan

Army Seeks ‘Synthetic Training Environment’

Defense Systems features collaborative efforts to create a unified virtual training architecture that would allow soldiers to practice realistic operations anywhere and anytime and improve training management across the Army environment.

Continue reading about the Synthetic Training Environment.

Virtual Humans Could Improve Conversations at the Doctor’s Office

Game-like simulations are training health care professionals to be more empathetic and to tackle conversations on tough topics like mental health.

CNET spoke with ICT’s Jonathan Gratch about how virtual humans can be used in healthcare and other industries.

Continue reading.

Dell Technologies Invests in Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Dell Technologies Invests in Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Announces $100,000 Grant to Advance Bravemind

LAS VEGAS – Kicking off Dell Technologies World 2018, Chairman and CEO Michael Dell announces a $100,000 grant for the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies to advance its virtual reality exposure therapy prototype, Bravemind, used to assist in the treatment of post-traumatic stress symptoms in war Veterans.

Dr. Albert ‘Skip’ Rizzo, director for medical virtual reality at the Institute for Creative Technologies, helps kick off the conference by joining actor Jeffrey Wright on stage for a live demonstration of the project. Wright describes Bravemind and the work being done at the Institute as “human progress”, a common theme at Dell Technologies World 2018.

The donation will be used to help expand Bravemind and develop its most innovative form using higher fidelity virtual reality equipment at a lower cost, an option that was not feasible until recent advances in the technology over the last few years.

For more information about Bravemind, please visit www.ict.edu/prototype/pts.


Michael Dell Says Robopocalypse is Fake News, Future is Software Defined

SDxCentral covers Dell Technologies World 2018, where Michael Dell and company announce a $100,000 grant for the advancement of Bravemind.

Continue reading here.

How Virtual Reality Is Saving Lives Both On and Off the Battlefield

Dell Technologies explores the use of VR in exposure therapy in this feature, continue reading the full article here.

Can the Scary World of Facial Recognition Generate a Nearly $9B Benefit

Forbes speaks with ICT’s Hao Li for insight.

MODSIM World 2018

MODSIM World 2018
April 24-26, 2018
Norfolk, VA

The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
April 21-26, 2018
Montreal, Canada

The US Army Has Made a Virtual North Korea to Train Soldiers

The US army is creating a virtual replica of the planet to drill troops in. The idea is that it will be so realistic that practising missions in virtual reality will be almost as good as the real thing.

Continue reading in New Scientist.

War Games: Army Deletes Bureaucracy to Get Sims Fast

There is real uncertainty whether such things as robotic tanks and high-speed scout helicopters are possible on the Army’s timeline. But if there’s one area where a high-speed approach can work, it’s training simulations, where the Army can piggyback on the rapid development in commercial gaming.

Breaking Defense examines new technologies the Army is using, featuring ICT’s Synthetic Training Environment and One World Terrain efforts. Read the full story here.

Inside the VR Therapy Designed to Help Sexual Assault Survivors Heal by Facing Attackers

ABC News investigates new VR technology used to help treat sexual assault survivors, speaking with ICT’s Dr. Skip Rizzo about virtual reality exposure therapy.

Continue reading the full article here.

Using Virtual Reality to Treat Addiction

The Fix looks at ways in which VR can help support the treatment of addiction.

Spotting Fake News in a World with Manipulative Video

For CBS News, ICT’s Hao Li talks about manipulating images with Carter Evans.

Is the VR Universe in Ready Player One Possible?

For this Giz Asks, Gizmodo reached out to a number of VR experts, including Arno Hartholt and Skip Rizzo, about the plausibility of an OASIS-like platform coming onto the market, and how much computing power would be required to sustain it.

Continue reading the full article in Gizmodo.

Virtual Reality Now Being Used to Treat PTSD

Examining VR treatments for PTS, via News Blaze.

13th International Conference on Persuasive Technology

13th International Conference on Persuasive Technology
April 16-19, 2018
Waterloo, Canada

2018 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing

2018 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing
April 15-20, 2018
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A Holocaust Victim’s Decree: ‘Always Remember Who You Are’

Continued coverage of the New Dimensions in Testimony project from The Jerusalem Post.

At USC’s Dev Night, Nerds and Cinema Geeks Unite

PC Magazine stopped by Dev Night, an after-hours hangout for USC engineering and cinema students, and checked out projects from two filmmakers who fuse programming with art.

Read the full article here.

How Artificial Intelligence Helps Tech Students in the Learning Process

Universities will be among the first to adopt various Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, otherwise, they will become irrelevant and ultimately redundant. If done right, the technology can greatly enhance the learning process and empower what universities and students do.

Artificial intelligence is yet to become a standard in schools, but it has the potential to transform the educational field. It’s is a technology whose time has certainly come because it can already outperform humans in many ways. However, it can be very helpful for tech students.

StartUs looks at how AI is helping students, to read more click here.

Synthetic Training Environment (STE)

Download a PDF overview.

The development of advanced simulation technologies for training is underway. Converging live, virtual and constructive experiences will enable units to achieve the highest levels of warfighting readiness and give valuable training time back to Units and their Soldiers.

The U.S. Army must train to win in a complex world that demands adaptive leaders and organizations that thrive in ambiguity and chaos. To meet this need, force 2025 and beyond, the Army’s comprehensive strategy to change and deliver land-power capabilities as a strategic instrument of the future joint force, requires a new training environment that is flexible, supports repetition, reduces overhead and is available at the point of need.

The Synthetic Training Environment (STE) will provide training to the point-of-need using the latest in immersive and mobile technologies. STE is a collective training environment that optimizes human performance within a multi-echelon mixed-reality environment. It provides immersive and intuitive capabilities to keep pace with a changing operational environment and enable Army training on joint combined arms operations. The STE moves the Army away from facility-based training, and instead, allows the Army to train at the point of need — whether at home-station, combat training centers or at deployed locations.

Leveraging current mixed reality technologies, STE blends virtual, augmented and physical realities, providing commanders and leaders at all levels with multiple options to guide effective training across active and dynamic mission complexities. STE will provide intuitive applications and services that enable embedded training with mission command workstations and select platforms.

Augmented Reality is Changing How Newspapers (and Readers) are Seeing Things

Editor&Publisher explores how AR technology can be used in publishing newspapers, tapping into ICT’s Todd Richmond for insight.

Read the full article here.

Technology, Mind & Society (American Psychological Association)

Technology, Mind & Society (American Psychological Association)
April 5-7, 2018
Washington, D.C.

A Whole New World – Virtual Reality in Social Work

“In using exposure therapy in its traditional form, you would use the imagination alone. You are asking them to narrate the experience in the safety of the office and then process those emotions in the office. The use of VR helps take that experience to another level.” Skip Rizzo tells Lindsey Getz for Social Work Today.

Continue reading the full article here.

Asos’s New Technology Lets Shoppers See Clothes on Different Body Types

ICT’s David Krum is quoted throughout this Today.com piece about retailer ASOS using AR technology to show clothing on various models.

Read the full article here.

Artificial Intelligence: Promise and Peril

During the HPA Tech Retreat eXtra (TR-X) last month, Phil Lelyveld, program lead for the AR/VR Initiative at the Entertainment Technology Center @ USC, spoke about “Artificial Intelligence: Immersion, Story, Technology and Ethics.” He started by reminding attendees that although the market has divided “virtual reality” and “augmented reality” into two separate verticals, it’s actually a continuum. “The goal is to create objects or experiences indistinguishable from real experiences, which can impact your brain like a real experience,” he says. Researcher Skip Rizzo, director for the Medical Virtual Reality Institute for Creative Technologies, describes all of it as “mental stimuli,” noting that “we already live in a mixed reality world.”

As it advances, this world of mixed reality will also be impacted by social media, world building, crowd-sourcing and data from dozens of Internet of Things devices, from smart watches to smart houses. Then comes artificial intelligence. “AI will shape and filter the information you get through AR or VR, so it can have a huge impact on how you view the world,” he says. Lelyveld showed “Eclipse,” a music video commissioned by Saatchi & Saatchi that was made completely in AI systems. “When it was shown in film festivals, side by side with other music videos created by humans, the audience couldn’t tell the difference,” he reports.

Continue reading the full article in Hollywood Professional Association.

Interactive Holocaust Education

Continued coverage of the New Dimensions in Testimony project. Read the full article in Times of Israel.

Army’s Institute for Creative Technologies Advances Research to Reality

Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors have benefited from the research created by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and its academic partner, the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. The research collaborators continue to make great strides in the fields of artificial intelligence, simulated graphics, immersion and virtual reality-supporting both military and civilian research.

Continue reading this ARL and ICT feature on the U.S. Army website.

Army’s Institute for Creative Technologies Advances Research to Reality

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD — Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors have benefited from the research created by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and its academic partner, the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. The research collaborators continue to make great strides in the fields of artificial intelligence, simulated graphics, immersion and virtual reality-supporting both military and civilian research.

Established in 1999 as an University Affiliated Research Center, the Army’s Institute for Creative Technologies launched an effort to link Army and academic researchers with the creative talents of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Bridging these worlds, researchers believed it would help influence the trajectory of technological research and advancement in both the military and civilian sectors.

This influence has become a reality. In the civilian sector, industry has adopted low-cost virtual reality methods, the research and development has enabled citizens at museums from Illinois to Nanjing to have real-time conversations with digitally recreated survivors of genocide.

In the military sector, leaders from every echelon use its technologies to sharpen situational awareness, interpersonal communication and decision-making skills. One example of this is the Team Assessment and Learner Knowledge Observational Network, or TALK-ON.

TALK-ON is a mixed-reality test bed designed to explore questions of simulation fidelity, assessment and feasibility involved in using consumer virtual reality technologies for armored vehicle leadership training. The TALK-ON prototype is focused on cognitive and communication skills training of novice tank platoon leaders, who must accurately assess tactical situations, make quick decisions, and communicate effectively with the tank crew, other tanks within and across platoons and higher command.

“Our work on the TALK-ON project represents a true collaboration across ARL and ICT, where we have engaged in joint data collection with subject-matter experts and trainees to study how they experience the tank simulator technology,” Dr. Pete Khooshabeh, TALK-ON principal investigator and acting regional lead of ARL West said. “If the project team was exclusively comprised of just academic or military researchers, it would have been less successful than our cross-disciplinary combined effort.”

Since its doors opened, researchers have created scientific knowledge about the ways computers can better simulate the human experience. Its developers have built on this research to create immersive capabilities to engage users to explore, create, innovate and validate.

“Through partnerships with the ARL Simulation and Training Technology Center in Orlando, Florida and the national center of modeling, simulation and training in Central Florida, innovations have been integrated into many solutions that serve Army readiness,” Col. Harold Buhl, deputy director of the Human Research and Engineering Directorate, ARL Orlando said.

While the institute is expanding transfer of technology and research to industry and commercial organizations, the relationship continues to serve as a valuable asset to the DOD and military. Troops continue to deploy in complex environments across the globe confronting highly adaptive adversaries, requiring them to make complicated decisions, lead diverse teams of humans and machines, and operate in joint, multi-agency and coalition environments.

To prepare commanders for these complicated decisions and coalition environments, develops user-driven cognitive trainers.

One such trainer is DisasterSim, a game-based tool that teaches members of a joint task force how to respond to a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief mission in a foreign country.

In DisasterSim, trainees must attempt to restore essential services, reconstruct civil infrastructure and provide humanitarian assistance, all while managing interactions with local civil authorities, non-governmental organizations, and other U.S. government relief organizations.

They must use their judgment to prioritize and execute lifesaving tasks while operating within DOD limits related to medical relief and infrastructure repairs. Trainee actions in the exercise can impact future interactions and may also influence overall scenario. The game is used as part of U.S. Agency for International Development’s joint humanitarian operations course and was sponsored by U.S. Army South.

To simulate multi-domain battle, future training must be a convergence of mixed reality and live training and delivered to the point of need. The applied research project One World Terrain, or OWT is moving the Army toward this future and supports the Army modernization priority for a synthetic training environment.

This project assists the U.S. military by creating the most realistic, accurate and informative 3-D representations of the physical and non-physical landscape. Informing the Army modernization priority for a synthetic training environment, the goal is to establish an authoritative 3-D terrain dataset for next-generation modeling and simulation systems. This capability will reside in infrastructure. Research for this effort has transitioned to the U.S. Marine Corps tactical decision kit.

“The focus of One World Terrain is to create foundational 3-D geospatial data that can be collected, processed, stored and served to any number of different modeling and simulation end points,” said Ryan McAlinden, director of modeling and simulation at ICT. “We want to give field units the opportunity to own and manage the data that they rely upon for training, rehearsal and operations.”

Soldiers also face significant challenges outside of the strategic and tactical domains. To help them tackle these challenges, researchers and developers created the Emergent Leader Immersive Training Environment, or ELITE.

ELITE targets leadership and basic counseling for junior leaders in the U.S. Army. The experience incorporates a virtual human, classroom response technology and real-time data tracking tools to support the instruction, practice and assessment of interpersonal communication skills.

The training application is also used to educate U.S. Army sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates (ELITE SHARP POST), as well as Army command teams on the SHARP program (ELITE SHARP CTT), and trains junior Army leaders to successfully intervene when observing behavior that could lead to potential incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault (ELITE SHARP BRAVE).

“Recently the Army Research Institute validated the effectiveness of training with the ELITE platform, as it was shown to increase users’ knowledge of appropriate response to SHARP incidents and users’ confidence in responding to SHARP incidents,” said Matthew Trimmer, project director at ICT. “That was a big win for not just the project members at ICT and ARL, but for the entire ELITE team. It truly has been an honor working on this effort.”

The team also includes the SHARP Academy, Army SHARP Office, U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager Virtual and Gaming, which serves as the Army’s user representative for virtual and gaming capabilities to satisfy Army training requirements.

The Army-funded team collaborates across multiple disciplines to develop cutting-edge technologies to better assist in these scenarios. Together they push educational research forward to achieve readiness faster and sustain it longer.

Researchers have also leveraged this multidisciplinary approach to support service members returning from operations using virtual reality and virtual human characters through Bravemind: Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, or VRET. With this technology, patients with post-traumatic stress can confront their trauma memories.

Through a virtual retelling of the experience, the therapy produces a meaningful reduction in patients’ symptoms. VRET is an endorsed, evidence-based treatment and can be found at more than 90 sites, including VA hospitals, military bases and university centers. Patients use VRET – guided by a trained therapist – to confront their trauma memories through a retelling of the experience. The therapy has produced a meaningful reduction in posttraumatic stress symptoms and recent clinical research supports the conclusion that VR is an effective tool for delivering this form of “evidence-based” treatment.

Another way the team supports returning service members is through the Virtual Interactive Training Agent for Veterans, or VITA4Vets system. It is a virtual simulation practice system designed to build job interviewing competence and confidence, while reducing anxiety. It was originally developed by the institute with support from the U.S. Army, Google.org, and the Dan Marino Foundation to support young adults with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. Because of its success with the Dan Marino Foundation and Google.org, the platform was augmented to support out-processing military service members and veterans.

“Regardless of talent, experience or temperament, some returning service members may find it challenging to express how their skills and experience can translate into the private sector,” Trimmer said.

By conducting interdisciplinary basic research, innovating with applied research, demonstrating with advanced technology development, and creating best-of-breed prototypes to include transitioning and commercializing research and applications, the Army’s ICT team leads the way in maintaining the military’s technological advantage.

“This partnership is revolutionizing the way people understand and prepare for many situations they will face,” said Buhl. “Whether it is a Soldier experiencing combat with confidence gained in tough realistic and iterative immersive training, or a Soldier working through the rigor of post-deployment transition, the technologies are adding value to our Army and to our society.”

Scientists Launch Global Effort to Find the Next Diabetes Drug

USC researchers issue a call to scientists to help them create the first comprehensive model of a cell that is central to diabetes, the pancreatic beta cell.

The challenge of understanding the pancreatic beta cell could be compared to getting to know an unfamiliar city. In a collaboration with the World Building Media lab at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and working with professors Alex McDowell and Todd Richmond, the consortium is trying to use world-building tools, similar to what was used to craft the film “Minority Report,” and portray the cell as a world.

Continue reading the full article in USC News.

Israeli Tech Helps Detect Depression in People

University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies researchers, as a part of their pioneering efforts within DARPA’s Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals (DCAPS) project, developed a tool, SimSensei, to spot signs of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It uses an algorithm called k-means algorithm, which can put large data sets into clusters based on average values, which is then compared to normal’ speech patterns.

Such innovations are intended as a form of healthcare support and not — as in the case of DCAPS — aimed at providing an exact diagnosis. They can be useful in offering a general metric of psychological health.

An alarmingly high number of people across the world suffer from depression and other mental health problems. Studies confirm that if the risk factors contributing to depression are known, and if the most susceptible are assisted early, the condition may be promptly averted.

Continue reading the full article in TechnoChops.

This Emotionally Intelligent Device Is Helping Kids with Autism Form Bonds

An in-depth look at technology helping children with autism, citing ICT virtual human research as early sources of AI use for mental health treatments.

Read the full article in Tonic.

Plenty of New Health Care Technology, but Will Doctors Use It?

The Internet, electronic health records and artificial intelligence can help doctors make the correct diagnosis and make better decisions. And that is just one way that technology can make health care more efficient, more accurate and less costly.

Post-SXSW coverage in the Houston Chronicle featuring ICT’s Skip Rizzo’s commentary on using VR for PTS treatment.

IEEE VR 2018

IEEE VR 2018
March 18-22, 2018
Reutlingen, Germany

Fear of Public Speaking Could Be Solved With Virtual Audience

Public speaking can heighten anyone’s anxiety. Cicero, a program named after the famed Roman orator, aims to help people overcome that fear — with the help of a virtual audience.

Continue reading about this new research in USC News.

How the USC Institute for Creative Technologies is Using VR to Treat PTSD

Skip Rizzo, the center’s director for medical virtual reality, spoke with TechRepublic’s Teena Maddox at SXSW about VR’s potential to help those with PTSD process traumatic memories.

Continue reading here.

How Dell Aims to Raise Awareness of Environmental Issues Through VR Partnerships

At SXSW, TechRepublic’s Teena Maddox spoke with Dell’s director of VR and AR about the company’s partnerships, which include one with ICT in treating veterans with PTSD and exposure therapy inside of VR to help rehabilitation.

Continue reading in TechRepublic.

SXSW ’18 – IEEE Tech for Humanity Series

SXSW ’18 – IEEE Tech for Humanity Series March 9-18, 2018
Austin, TX

How Virtual Reality Can Transform PTSD Treatment

University of Southern California’s President C.L. Max Nikias pens a blog post about Bravemind, the VR exposure therapy tool to help treat PTSD, for the Wall Street Journal.

Read the full piece on WSJ.com.

New Tech Lets Users Create Their Own Avatars

While video games have long been at the forefront of virtual reality, the technology is already being used in the fields of gaming, architecture, education and military training, among others. The devices offer high quality displays that provide a wide field of view and the ability to track users’ head movements to create high levels of immersion.

Skip Rizzo, director of medical virtual reality for USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, tells i-HLS: “We can also put service members with post-traumatic stress disorder into a simulated kind of context in which they were traumatized before to help them better cope with how they handle that.”

Continue reading on i-HLS.com.

Creepy, Real Technologies That Could Be On the Next ‘Black Mirror’

Greg Keraghosian of SF Gate explores AI technology for the future, featuring ICT’s research in virtual humans used as tools for clinicians.

Read the full article here.

ACM IUI 2018

ACM IUI 2018
March 7-11, 2018
Tokyo, Japan

13th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction

13th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction
March 5-8, 2018
Chicago, IL

How AI is Disrupting Education

We test students today to see how much they have learned. We measure their test answers against the teacher’s questions. And sometimes we measure their scores against their classmates to see how they did relative to their peers.

But in the world of AI, this is child’s play. There is so much more we can learn about our students than their responses to our questions, and there is so much more students can learn on their own.

AI offers the hope of leading us in the right direction and is already disrupting the field of education and the way we help students learn and grow.

Kids already use AI on their phones, getting answers and directions from Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. There aren’t too many questions that these virtual personal assistants can’t answer. And they’re part of a strong growth market for investors.

Continue reading in Disruptor Daily.

Army Launches New SHARP Training Tools

ARL and the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California recently launched new training applications to support the response and prevention, or SHARP program.

Click here for DVIDS coverage.

Army Launches New SHARP Training Tools

By Joyce Conant and Sara Preto

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California recently launched new training applications to support the U.S. Army’s sexual harassment/assault response and prevention, or SHARP program.

The Emergent Leader Immersive Training Environment Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Command Team Trainer, or ELITE SHARP CTT is a laptop training application that gives Army command teams the knowledge, skills, confidence and ability to successfully execute the SHARP program.

These applications are a part of the ELITE platform and will be used by the Army SHARP Academy-the proponent for this type of training throughout the Army.

ELITE SHARP Bystander Resource Assessment Virtual Exercise, or BRAVE is the new laptop-based training application. It was developed under the guidance of the SHARP Program Management Office and in collaboration with the Army SHARP Academy and the Army Forces Command.

The application targets junior leaders and Soldiers by providing instruction and strategies on how to successfully intervene when observing behavior that could lead to potential incidents of sexual harassment or sexual assault. It employs techniques that have been used successfully in earlier versions of the ELITE suite of training applications. The techniques include a virtual human instructor to deliver up-front instruction on new key concepts, animated vignettes to provide visual examples of “good” and “bad” responses to SHARP incidents and practice exercises where students can apply their new knowledge in realistic training scenarios.

“We are excited to begin leveraging the additional CTT content and the new BRAVE application in our SHARP education and training efforts,” said Col. Christopher H. Engen, director of the Army SHARP Academy. “These latest innovations enable us to continually improve the breadth and rigor of available learning products for use and benefit Army-wide.”

The new version provides more training content than was available in previous ones. Its content includes specific strategies and recommended actions for commanders dealing with situations of retaliation prevention and response. It also includes several additional practice exercises providing command teams with more opportunities to advance their knowledge and hone their skills in dealing with SHARP-related situations within their units.

The new ELITE SHARP functions continue to build on the robust research and development conducted by ARL and the Army’s ICT. Both applications and associated supporting documentation to include training support packages, user guides and software installation instructions are now available on the Army MilGaming web portal at https://milgaming.army.mil/.


Here Come the Fake Videos, Too

Artificial intelligence video tools make it relatively easy to put one person’s face on another person’s body with few traces of manipulation. I tried it on myself. What could go wrong?

Continue reading Hao Li’s expert commentary in the New York Times.

Hao Li Earns Office of Naval Research Young Investigators Award

ICT’s Hao Li, a computer graphics and virtual reality expert, has received an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award to create highly realistic computer-generated (CG) humans for immersive training purposes.

Li is among 31 scientists selected from more than 340 applicants to receive this highly competitive award, which supports outstanding early-career scientists and academics. The three-year grant totaling almost $600,000 will support Li’s project, “Complete Human Digitization and Unconstrained Performance Capture.”

Continue reading on USC Viterbi’s news site.

USC Hosts London Hackathon Event for Young Entrepreneurs

Competition among secondary-school kids helps mark the opening of USC’s London office, the university’s ninth international office and its first in Europe.

Continue reading in USC News.

Virtual Human Role Players for Studying Social Factors in Organizational Decision Making

A perspective with a sketch for research paradigm(s) to study how different factors might interact w/ differential social power dynamics of individuals in cyber decision-making contexts.

Continue reading in Frontiers in Psychology.

1,000 Reactions – Can virtual audiences make you a better public speaker?

New research designed to help people overcome the fear and anxiety typically associated with public speaking. Cicero works with virtual reality glasses that have the effect of immersing the participant fully in the virtual world to make it as real as possible. In the virtual world, animated avatars that look like real people are coded to react to the speaker. Feedback then depends on the speaker’s aptitude. If they are interesting, the audience will appear engaged: lean forward, display interested facial expressions, nod their heads, etc. If the speaker fails to engage the assembly, audience members will demonstrate their dissatisfaction by leaning back, looking disinterested, shaking their heads, etc.

Continue reading about Cicero on USC Viterbi’s news site.