Patrick Kenny, Arno Hartholt, Jonathan Gratch, Bill Swartout, David Traum, Diane Piepol, Stacy Marsella: “Building Interactive Virtual Humans for Training Environments”

November 26, 2007 | Orlando, FL

Speaker: Patrick Kenny, Arno Hartholt, Jonathan Gratch, Bill Swartout, David Traum, Diane Piepol, Stacy Marsella
Host: I/ITSEC 2007

There is a great need in the Joint Forces to have human to human interpersonal training for skills such as negotiation, leadership, interviewing and cultural training. Virtual environments can be incredible training tools if used properly and used for the correct training application. Virtual environments have already been very successful in training Warfighters how to operate vehicles and weapons systems. At the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) we have been exploring a new question: can virtual environments be used to train Warfighters in interpersonal skills such as negotiation, tactical questioning and leadership that are so critical for success in the contemporary operating environment? Using embodied conversational agents to create this type of training system has been one of the goals of the Virtual Humans project at the institute. ICT has a great deal of experience building complex, integrated and immersive training systems that address the human factor needs for training experiences. This paper will address the research, technology and value of developing virtual humans for training environments. This research includes speech recognition, natural language understanding & generation, dialogue management, cognitive agents, emotion modeling, question response managers, speech generation and non-verbal behavior. Also addressed will be the diverse set of training environments we have developed for the system, from single computer laptops to multi-computer immersive displays to real and virtual integrated environments. This paper will also discuss the problems, issues and solutions we encountered while building these systems. The paper will recount subject testing we have performed in these environments and results we have obtained from users. Finally the future of this type of Virtual Humans technology and training applications will be discussed.