In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, the integration of virtual humans into various sectors has taken a leap, influencing both military and civilian applications. Among the institutions that recognize the potential and utility of virtual humans, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) stands out, supporting several research endeavors in this domain.
1. TRAINING AND SIMULATION
One of the core interests of the ONR lies in training and simulation. The investment in tools like the Rapid Integration & Development Environment (RIDE) is a testament to the ONR’s commitment to advancing accessible, immersive training platforms. By incorporating current knowledge on skills decay into future augmented reality haptic medical simulation training interfaces, the ONR sees the value in training military personnel with the latest, most effective tools available.
2. ENHANCING PHYSICAL-VIRTUAL INTERACTION
The boundary between the real and virtual world is increasingly blurring. The ONR’s interest in studies that explore real humans’ interaction with their virtual counterparts, especially in augmented reality settings, is evident. From understanding the effects of environmental noise during patient handoff communication in mixed reality simulations to exploring perceived trust in AI systems’ visual embodiments, the ONR’s goal is to refine how humans perceive and interact with their virtual counterparts seamlessly.
3. AUGMENTING SENSORY FEEDBACK AND PERCEPTION
Optimizing the military’s operational efficiency often requires refining individual and team-based perceptions and reactions. As such, the ONR is keen on understanding how peripheral vision, vibrotactile feedback, and other sensory channels can enhance mission performance. By studying how geometric features, personalities, and emotions in virtual humans can influence real-world perceptions, the ONR aims to develop simulations that can foster more intuitive and efficient human-machine interactions.
4. BOLSTERING SOCIAL PRESENCE IN VIRTUAL SETTINGS
Human-centric operations depend on solid interpersonal interactions and team dynamics. Recognizing this, the ONR has shown interest in enhancing social presence in virtual environments. By understanding the nuances of how social support dynamics change when interacting with virtual entities like dogs versus virtual humans or exploring the implications of shared gaze parameters in augmented reality, the ONR aims to optimize the interpersonal dynamics within military teams in virtual settings.
5. COMPUTATIONAL ANALYSIS AND DECISION MODELING
The military’s decision-making frameworks must be robust, especially in dynamic and uncertain environments. The ONR’s focus on modeling decision flow dynamics reflects its commitment to understand and optimize human performance, crew dynamics, and associated costs. By supporting studies that use advanced techniques like convolutional neural networks for cultural understanding or investigating blast-induced traumatic brain injuries, the ONR emphasizes the importance of precise, data-driven insights in military operations.
The ONR’s active involvement in virtual human research showcases its vision for a future where technology and human interactions are harmoniously intertwined. From optimizing training regimes and enhancing sensory feedback to refining interpersonal dynamics in virtual settings, the ONR’s interests in virtual humans are driven by a commitment to ensure the U.S. Navy remains at the forefront of technological and tactical advancement. As the line between the virtual and real continues to fade, institutions like the ONR will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping how these interactions evolve and benefit military operations.