Virtual Interactive Parent (VIP) System

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Army
Contract: W81XWH-09-C-0108
Agency Tracking Number: O091-H03-3019
Amount: $99,707.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: 2009
Solicitation Topic Code: OSD09-H03
Solicitation Number: 2009.1
Small Business Information
625 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138
DUNS: 115243701
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Peter Weyhrauch
 Senior Scientist
 (617) 491-3474
Business Contact
 Gail Zaslow
Title: Contract Specialist
Phone: (617) 491-3474
Research Institution
Military deployment practices necessarily separate families, and therefore inflict significant psychological stress, particularly in young children. Readily available contact with the deployed parent could reduce stress on the child. That reduction could in turn improve the service member’s resiliency by reducing family stress. Artificial intelligence and game technologies can be applied to support virtual interactions when the parent is not available, but several key challenges must be overcome to attain a workable solution. For the child, the system must be comforting, easy to use, and engaging, while avoiding any possible psychological harm. For the parent, it must provide guidance for rapidly and intuitively generating personalized content, while engendering trust in its content and security. To address these challenges, we propose to design a Virtual Interactive Parent (VIP) System for providing on-demand synthetic parent interactions to comfort left-behind family members—particularly young children—during stressful periods. VIP focuses on three components: 1) an Interaction Template Library of familiar, comforting interaction “scenes” that parents fill with personalized content; 2) a VIP Application for the child to communicate and play within these “scenes”; and 3) Secure Content Management Tools supporting parents as they personalize content and enjoy the child’s interaction with that content.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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