Some remember maybe Eliza, a software robot with which you could exchange a few phrases in text mode. With its pre-programmed questions and a lot of expression all do like “I understand,” this software created in the 1960s and which had only a few hundred lines of code happened to pass a shrink could freely confide.
Since then, technology has changed and this approach has been adopted by many researchers, particularly in the United States, who developed the points several generations of avatars. These are used in the context of the eLearning but only. Some play the role of the Eliza psy especially for the U.S. Army. Albert “Skip” Rizzo, a pioneer of virtual worlds was in Laval this year to take stock of the State of the art of these ‘psychs’ of synthesis.
Therapies based on virtual worlds created by the end of the 1990s
This may appear surprising, but in spite of the graphic quality very basic first virtual worlds with animations very ‘robotic’ the first characters of synthesis, the impact on the person who finds himself plunged into an immersive world with virtual reality goggles is very real. It is a technique which was notably used in the treatment of phobias since the end of the 1990s.
Thus, in 1999, the “Fear of Flying” simulation confronted the patient to his fear of flying. Since registration, boarding and flight, the patient could live virtually all phases of air travel without leaving the ground. A way to gain confidence before being confronted with the real situation. Since then, this simulation has been developed to a very high level of realism. You can even go have a drink in one of the bars/restaurants of the airport terminal while awaiting his flight. The technique was also used to help people speak in public or even to teach a few social behavior for autistic.
To deal with his phobia without running any danger, it is a track offered by virtual reality. Fear of spiders, snakes, agoraphobia, claustrophobia and even fear of emptiness, many virtual worlds have been created to combat phobias confronting patients virtually. From 1999, “Skip” Rizzo worked on a stunning virtual classroom of realism in the context of al combat attention deficit students suffering from hyperactivity.
Virtual agents interact realistically with humans
If virtual worlds are applications to detect disorders in children, deal with phobias and be used in the context of rehabilitation of patients, the interaction with characters from synthesis is an interesting track. This is particularly a way to train mental health doctors screening for certain disorders or even diagnose rare diseases. The Institute for Creative Technologies of the University of Southern California has created the Virtual Patient lab. Psychologists could freely interview a teenage girl from synthesis victim of sexual violence. Experience has shown that physicians had the same conversation with a real patient. In the Virtual Ebola project launched in 2013, doctors are found facing a series of virtual patients with whom they interact to diagnose if they were reached or not terrible virus. An effective tool to quickly form a large number of physician in case of outbreak.
The U.S. Army advanced on virtual agents
If an intelligent agent, an artificial intelligence can train doctors, it can also interact with patients if this is to directly diagnose illnesses, at least advise the patient. It is a track that is very seriously followed by the U.S. military for years. Because in addition to the use of virtual worlds to simulate air operations, land, Naval, it uses virtual agents to train its soldiers in operation in Iraq and now in Afghanistan to engage in dialogue with local populations. Project SASO-EN gave birth to the characters of Dr. Pérez and Elder Al Hassan, two intelligent agents with whom the soldier must negotiate the relocation of their hospital. A natural speech against determined to resist an American soldier characters.
The soldier have to find the right arguments, the right attitude to evacuate the hospital, for example enjoy noise of a firefight in the distance to make them change their minds. In addition to training, the U.S. military seeks a way to reduce the effects of post traumatic stress that would hit 1/5 of its soldiers returned to the country. In the Bravemind project, “Skip” Rizzo sought to plunge veterans in the traumatic experience they have experienced during an operation on the ground. Ambush, a booby-trap explosion, death of a comrade, the soldier is thrown back virtually into the situation he has known. A confrontation which, with the help of a psychologist to help him overcome the test. The device has been implemented in more than 50 military bases and centres of veterans in the United States. An evolution of BraveMind is under consideration. Operative STRIVE (Stress Resilience in Virtual Environments) should be used until the soldier is sent in combat zone. It will virtually make her live events the harder it will be required to meet on the ground. An avatar the second in its mission, explained his reactions, answers his questions.
If games have made considerable progress in terms of graphics and realism to virtual worlds, avatars developed by researchers social intelligence is progressing impressively. Avatars include and speaks a natural language less and less artificial, their gestural communication appropriately supports their words. To sharpen its responses, the avatar SimSensei uses a MultiSense approach to analyze the speech of the person facing it, or rather its screen. SimSensei has need of a Kinect to see the attitude of the person: how is she sitting, what are the movements of his arms, his hands. It also analyzes the facial expression and the look of the person. Is she smiling, she frowns. The analysis of the intonation of the voice gives him a few additional clues about his mood. Even more than to a shrink, nothing escapes SimSensei.