The Atlantic Covers SimSensei – ICT’s Virtual Reality Tool for Detecting Depression and PTSD

Published: May 23, 2014
Category: News

A story in The Atlantic featured Ellie, ICT’s virtual human interviewer who is capable of reading and responding to human emotion in real time. And capable, more to the point, of offering those responses via a human-like animation, states the story.
The article notes that Ellie is part of the DARPA-funded SimSensei effort to help detect systems of anxiety, depression and PTSD. In studies, over 500 people have spoken to Ellie.
And—here’s the surprising thing— states the story – they seem to enjoy the experience. The set time for each demo was initially 15 minutes; yet people kept extending their time with Ellie. That’s because, according to project co-leader Louis Philippe Morency, “they don’t feel judged” by her.
“Ellie is an interviewer, but she is there as a computer,” he said. “She doesn’t have judgment directly. So people love talking to her…. they’re more themselves. They’re really expressing and showing something that usually if you know that people are around you—or as an interviewer—they think, ‘Oh, I’m going to be careful.’ But with Ellie, they’re more themselves.”