I am Mohan Zalake, currently a student in the Human-Centered Computing Ph.D. program at the University of Florida. I work in the Virtual Experiences Research Group. My research interest revolves around developing embodied conversational agents (ECAs). ECAs are computer generated human like 3-D characters and converse through natural language-style dialogues with humans. I am particularly interested in creating interactive ECAs as an interface to deliver and collect medical information. Previous research has shown that automated ECAs with social skills have great potential to improve population health. Although large population is aware of conversational interfaces like smart home speakers, very few are familiar with ECAs. My research focuses on identifying and understanding user needs of diverse healthcare population to build intuitive and usable ECA interfaces.
I have developed ECA interfaces to provide medical support for suicidal patients and to increase awareness of colon cancer screening among elderly population. Developing such interfaces involves interdisciplinary collaboration (like doctors, computer scientists, communication scientists), interacting with target population, understanding user needs, building prototypes and testing with target population through out the design process. .
I have also developed several Unity based VR experiences which demonstrate applicability of VR in various domains. My interests include virtual reality, natural language processing, machine learning, computer graphics and human-computer interaction. .
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