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Virtual Humans for Learning

William Swartout, Ron Artstein, Eric Forbell, Susan Foutz, H. Chad Lane, Belinda Lange, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, Albert Skip Rizzo, David Traum

Abstract


Virtual humans are computer-generated characters designed to look and behave like real people. Studies have shown that virtual humans can mimic many of the social effects that one finds in human-human interactions such as creating rapport, and people respond to virtual humans in ways that are similar to how they respond to real people. We believe that virtual humans represent a new metaphor for interacting with computers, one in which working with a computer becomes much like interacting with a person and this can bring social elements to the interaction that are not easily supported with conventional interfaces. We present two systems that embody these ideas. The first, the Twins are virtual docents in the Museum of Science, Boston, designed to engage visitors and raise their awareness and knowledge of science. The second SimCoach, uses an empathetic virtual human to provide veterans and their families with information about PTSD and depression.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v34i4.2487

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