Interactive Training Applications Using Responsive Virtual Human Technology
Hubal, R. C., & Frank, G. A. (2001). Interactive Training Applications Using Responsive Virtual Human Technology. In Proceedings of the Interservice/Industry Training Systems and Education Conference,.
Intelligent agents are being used in fields as diverse as computer generated forces, manufacturing, medicine, and theater. Where intelligent agents have not been employed, though, is in interaction skills training. But interaction skills--interviewing, negotiating, tactical communications, eliciting information--are critical to today's soldiers, police, and many professionals (e.g., doctors, lawyers) in our service-oriented economy. Sample scenarios include interviewing refugees, handling some forms of asymmetric threats (such as hostage negotiations), and encounters in high-stress military situations (such as negotiating a passage of arms through a checkpoint held by coalition forces). When it occurs, interaction skills training usually relies on peer-to-peer role playing or passive learning through videos. These forms of training lead to a critical training gap, because the students are limited in the practice time and the variety of scenarios that they encounter. But it is exactly this practice, studies show, that leads to significant on-the-job benefits. We have developed responsive virtual human technology (RVHT) that allows natural, interactive dialog between the soldier and system. RVHT can improve training by reducing the necessary infrastructure (e.g., personnel), by providing soldiers with more practice time and consistent interaction experiences. RVHT is a relatively recent advance in training technology. Portraying emotions in a virtual human requires clearly defined emotional state, action that shows thought processes, and accentuation to reveal feelings, yet lifelike virtual humans can lead to improvements in problem-solving ability and can engage and motivate students. Most importantly, RVHT can open entirely new capabilities for computer-based training of interpersonal skills, and can provide the benefits of reduced training costs, increased student-teacher ratios, individualized tutoring, and greater student convenience that are associated with computer-based training.