William G. Harless, Ph.D.
Interactive Drama Inc.
Interactive Drama Inc. (IDI) has developed a voice-controlled, interactive video model that enables users to conduct "face-to-face" virtual dialogues with video images of real people. In Phase I, IDI created a prototype series of virtual dialogue programs featuring eight experienced amputees who have learned to cope with their limb loss, and three caregivers who have cared for amputees. The objective of these programs is to help amputees and their families gain information and emotional support, especially during the early stages of recovery. Pictures and descriptions of these amputees and caregivers are attached.
A field test was conducted with 23 recent amputees and caregivers who interacted with the virtual dialogue programs. The initial study proved that this process was not only technologically feasible but also educationally effective and enjoyable. Most of the participants felt as though they had actually met the video characters.
The data showed that all of the field test subjects had a significant gain in practical knowledge, all experienced a feeling of emotional support, and virtually all had a positive change in attitude about amputees. These findings were the basis for the Phase II development (now underway) of a comprehensive series of virtual dialogue programs that feature amputees of various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Virtual dialogues with several expert health professionals who deal with amputees will also be included in the series. An expanded field test with follow-up will be conducted to learn more about the educational effects of the virtual dialogue method.
The IDI exhibit will give symposium attendees the opportunity to interact with the virtual dialogue programs in the series. A PowerPoint presentation of the results of the Phase I field test will be available for viewing on systems in the IDI exhibit.