With recent advances in Virtual Reality technology have led to the evolution of intelligent virtual humans. This has been driven by seminal research and development in the creation of highly interactive, artificially intelligent and natural language capable virtual human agents that can engage real human users in a credible fashion. Virtual human representations, no longer at the level of a prop to add context or minimal faux interaction in a virtual world, can be designed to perceive and act in a 3D virtual world, engage in face-to-face spoken dialogues with real users (and other virtual humans) and in some cases, they are capable of exhibiting human-like emotional reactions.
This presentation will provide a brief rationale and overview of research that has shown the benefits derived from the use of virtual humans in healthcare applications. Recent work using intelligent virtual human agents in the role of virtual patients to train novice clinicians, as job interview/social skill trainers for persons with autism, and as online healthcare support agents will be described, along with a look into the future of this next major movement in Virtual Reality.