A Toolkit to Help Integrate Humans with Virtual Environments, Intelligent Simulations (FSMs), and Artificial Cognitive Systems (NPCs)

Kingsley, C. and Jenkins, M.

Proceedings of the 2019 Intelligent Human Systems Integration (IHSI) International Conference, San Diego, CA (February 2019)

Charles River Analytics is developing an open-source, Unity-based Extended Reality (XR) SDK for development of immersive simulations, currently focused on medical simulations. Our work-to-date has focused on integrating humans into virtual environments through enhanced immersion, by leveraging multimodal naturalistic controls and virtual interactions with intelligent simulations and artificial cognitive systems.

To enable naturalistic control in virtual environments, we are building support for a variety of XR peripherals (e.g., data gloves, motion capture suits, haptic wearables) which can be used to enhance simulation immersion (e.g., by supporting gesture-based controls, interaction with physical tracked objects, and environmental haptic feedback). We then integrate this naturalistic interaction support with intelligent agents and state machines in virtual environments to emulate the dynamic nature of the real world. In our combat medic training scenarios, we utilize our Simulated Interpretive Model for Finite State Machines (SIM FSM) engine to assign and simulate real-time injuries, vitals, and life span of casualties, and other intelligent non-player characters to imitate real-world stressors such as yelling at a user for not treating a casualty fast enough as their vitals near critical levels.

Finally, using this simulation capability we analyzed common procedures within the medical training domain, as well as requisite objects and interaction areas, and developed a virtual workbench for users to perform the procedures utilizing our various supported naturalistic controls. We will be using this workbench environment to carry out a human subjects research study on the effect of the fidelity of interactions on training of fine- and gross-motor control tasks in virtual environments, early results of which we plan to present at IHSI 2019 and demonstrate to attendees through a VR headset.

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