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Text: Tilburg University
Mind Labs develops virtual humans
Together with 13 partners, Tilburg University will start a project totaling 7 million euros to develop virtual humans for training purposes in healthcare. The project called VIBE (Virtual Humans in the Brabant Economy) is the first project in Mind Labs, the initiative on interactive technologies and behavior set up in the Tilburg Spoorzone area.
The European Union, OP Zuid, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Province of North Brabant, and the city of Tilburg have funded this collaboration. In addition to Tilburg University (principal investigator), various partners are involved, including knowledge institutions (NHTV Breda, Fontys, ROC Tilburg), hospitals (Amphia, Maxima Medical Center and Spaarne Gasthuis), industry (BlueTea, IC3D Media, Indicia, Noldus, Samure, Visionair3D) and the Netherlands Aerospace Center.
Virtual humans communicate in speech, facial expressions, and behavior with their human users in virtual reality environments. Such interactive avatars can be deployed in several domains, particularly those domains for which interaction is critical, such as healthcare. These avatars can support training of care givers or providing patient information.
Prof. Max Louwerse, professor of Cognitive Psychology and Artificial Intelligence, principal investigator of the project: "Knowledge in the field of virtual reality is increasingly distributed across knowledge institutions and companies. What makes VIBE unique is not only the development of virtual interactive humans, but also the boost the project provides in bringing together the talent that is needed. VIBE fits well within the idea behind Mind Labs, the collaboration between Tilburg University, Fontys, ROC Tilburg, industry, and the city of Tilburg and the province."
Living health labs
Economy Deputy Bert Pauli of the Province of North Brabant: "The European Union would like to see scientific insights being used for society. This European funding enables Mind Labs to impact healthcare using virtual reality technologies. The province will participate in this funding, because the collaboration between researchers and entrepreneurs will strengthen the potential for innovation in Brabant."
VIBE combines Cognitive Science, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Computer Science within the health care domain. Living health labs will be set up in the field of obstetrics, oncology, and emergency rooms to test the success of these interactive avatars in training settings. The project will start in January 2018.