Virtual Human Agents

Research has shown that patients find a face-to-face interview with an Intelligent Virtual Human agent very engaging and welcome. Intelligent Virtual Human agents have been created that control computer generated bodies and can provide credible interactions with real people through natural language speech and gesture in virtual environments. Advanced Virtual Human agents can engage in rich conversations, recognize nonverbal cues, improve interactional rapport with users, reason about social and emotional factors and synthesize human communication and nonverbal expressions. Leveraging these capabilities in a clinical setting, research has shown that Virtual Human agents can communicate empathy, elicit patient trust, reduce the feeling of being judged by a human, provide clinical training experiences and reduce emotional barriers to disclose an affective state.

Virtual Human Agents are a promising tool for conducting replicable, standardized and well-accepted clinical interviews in medical settings. Their use could thus save time in the clinician’s busy schedule and increase the consistency and fidelity across clinical interviews. These findings point to future opportunities for implementing Virtual Human agents to increase the satisfaction of patients with their interactions with the healthcare system.

Virtual Human Agents can also serve as an approachable front end interface in support of interaction with decision/information systems to develop new medical approaches for managing major chronic diseases and optimizing healthcare systems. Such solutions could be very useful to diagnose chronic diseases early and follow them up, which is at the moment very costly and time-consuming for healthcare providers.

With this in mind, it is a small step to consider the use of Virtual Human agents in other fields including human resource management, retail, knowledge support, training and education.

Join us as we explore and discuss the next major movement in virtual and augmented reality—the birth of intelligent Virtual Human agents!

Co-organised with Albert ‘SKIP’ Rizzo, Ph.D. Director of Medical Virtual Reality, University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies

Research Professor

USC Davis School of Gerontology and USC Keck School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry& Behavioral Sciences. Psychologist Skip Rizzo conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of virtual reality (VR) systems targeting the areas of psychological, cognitive and motor functioning in both healthy and clinical populations.

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