Virtual humans (Avatars) are conversational agents that operate in virtual reality environments and communicate with their non-virtual human users through speech, facial expressions and movement. That is a challenge as the agents should look like a human, with the appropriate eye gaze and facial expressions. But the agent is also supposed to communicate with the user without knowing in advance what the user will be saying. Artificial intelligence will help creating natural communication.
The ViBE agent we are developing will be applied in healthcare settings, including training healthcare practitioners and supporting patient communication. But they are designed to also allow customization for other domains to enhance training and education programs even beyond the healthcare domain.
Prof. Max Louwerse, Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Artificial Intelligence and initiator of the project: “Knowledge in the field of virtual reality is increasingly distributed across knowledge institutions and companies. What makes ViBE special is not only that we are developing virtual interactive avatars, but also that the project provides an incentive to combine distributed talent at different partners in an ambitious project. ViBE thus fits exactly with the idea behind MindLabs: the collaboration between Tilburg University, Fontys Hogescholen, ROC Tilburg, the business community and the municipality and province.”
Living health labs
ViBE will find innovative virtual reality solutions for healthcare training in domains such as bariatrics and gynecology. Hospitals participating in the project are the Máxima Medisch Centrum in Eindhoven and the Spaarne Gasthuis in Haarlem. Living health labs will be set in which the interactive avatars can help improve training for staff and provide information to patients.
ViBE includes partners from different disciplines and different domains, including knowledge institutions with expertise in agent development, photogrammetry, data science, artificial intelligence and computational linguistics, corporate partners with expertise in virtual reality, serious games, sensing technologies, and digital creativity, and two hospitals that provide medical expertise. The project provides an incentive to combine distributed talent from different partners in an ambitious project.
Project periode: 2018-2022
Funding: EU EFRO, Province of Noord Brabant, municipalities.
Partners: Tilburg University is project coordinator. The other partners are: knowledge institutes (BUas Breda, Fontys Hogescholen, ROC Tilburg), hospitals (Maxima Medisch Centrum en Spaarne Gasthuis), corporate partners (BlueTea, IC3D Media, Indicia, Noldus, Samure), and the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR).
Project leader: Prof. Dr. Max Louwerse – Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Artificial Intelligence at Tilburg University.
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