USC creates ‘virtual humans’ for navy training

USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) is providing the US Navy with virtual humans for use at its training center in Newport, RI. The technology mimics real human emotions and act as training aids to help the students learn to deal with the complex real-life emotional problems.

According to monthly tech magazine Campus Technology, USC cited this is as the first case of the armed forces using virtual humans in a training program.

The system, called the Immersive Naval Officer Training System (INOTS), is directed toward helping the naval students deal better with emotional, financial, domesti, and on-the-job problems they are likely to face.

In one of the exercises, a virtual sailor gets into a shipboard fight with a colleague. He must now contend with the repercussions of his act and face his officer’s wrath for the misdemeanor. In response to the officer, the “sailor” can perform actions such as raising his voice or shaking his head in frustration.

The new program has reportedly also led to an upsurge in student interest. ICT Research Associate Julia Campbell told Campus Technology that the naval students are asked to stand up in the back of the class if they feel sleepy. However, no one stood up during the recent training experiment. “They were completely engaged in the program,” she said.

ICT, which was established in 1999 courtesy a multi-year contract from the military, is also working on a similar system for the Army. It is scheduled to be provided to a training facility in Ft. Benning, GA., later this year.