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Project Title:  ANSIBLE: A Network of Social Interactions for Bilateral Life Enhancement Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2014 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 04/25/2014  
End Date: 04/24/2016  
Task Last Updated: 09/22/2015 
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Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Wu, Peggy  M.S. / SIFT, LLC 
Address:  211 N. First Street, Suite 300 
Minneapolis , MN 55401-1480 
Phone: (612) 669-6224  
Congressional District:
Organization Type: INDUSTRY 
Organization Name: SIFT, LLC 
Joint Agency:  
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. Not Available 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact: 
Solicitation / Funding Source: SBIR Phase II 
Grant/Contract No.: Not Available 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:  
No. of PhD Candidates:  
No. of Master's Candidates:  
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:  
No. of PhD Degrees:  
No. of Master's Degrees:  
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:  
Human Research Program Elements: (1) BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Bmed:Risk of Adverse Behavioral Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) BMed07:We need to identify and validate effective methods for modifying the habitat/vehicle environment to mitigate the negative psychological and behavioral effects of environmental stressors (e.g., isolation, confinement, reduced sensory stimulation) likely to be experienced in the long duration spaceflight environment (element change per IRP Rev H)
(2) BMed08:We need to understand how personal relations/interactions (family, friends and colleagues) affect astronauts’ behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions (element change per IRP Rev H)
(3) Team Gap 03:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function for all phases of autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
Task Description: Studies in ground-based analogs of Isolated and Confined Environments (ICE) have identified sensory monotony and social isolation as threats to crew psychological well-being. Further, the lack of real-time communications in future missions will impact crew interactions with their support systems, i.e., family, friends, and colleagues, are critical. ANSIBLE (A Network of Social Interactions for Bilateral Life Enhancement) leverages evidence based strategies to 1) augment asynchronous communications using Virtual Environments (VEs) and facilitate novel interaction methods beyond email; 2) use the inherently immersive and stimuli rich nature of VEs to counteract sensory monotony; and 3) leverage VEs and intelligent Virtual Agents (VAs) as companions and advisors to combat social monotony and detect changes in astronaut psychosocial states that can increase astronaut self-awareness, suggest countermeasures, and provide rehearsal scenarios to maintain and enhance interpersonal skills. Along with Dr. Morie, SIFT will leverage its prior work with human communication models and unobtrusive detection of psychosocial dimensions, to enhance VE and VA technologies. The resulting tool will advance the future social landscape that connects the flight crew with Earth, and can be used pre-, during, and post-flight to connect crew and ground, providing a sense of social consistency and permanence.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: Crew members on currently on the International Space Station (ISS) can email, videocon, or use the IP phone to call anyone at anytime. However, future long duration missions will heavily rely on asynchronous communication due to the expected time delay. ANSIBLE will provide additional methods beyond email to combat social and sensory monotony. While ANSIBLE will have the technologies to accommodate the communication latencies, it can also be used in real time, during pre- and post-flight when crew and families may be geographically separated (e.g., due to training schedules), thus providing a longitudinal continuum for connecting with their social support systems. Further, VEs are natural environments to provide training, skills maintenance, as well as cooperative experiential learning. VAs are guides and instructors in other domains, and they may be of greater importance to serve in those roles in the context of limited real-time communications.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: There are many potential ANSIBLE applications. Military service members can use ANSIBLE to connect with family, friends, and psychological health support before, during, and after deployment. Virtual avatars can function as therapists and not only reach a larger population, but also allow anonymity which has been shown to be a preferred option for many end users. Outside of telehealth, the global military simulation and virtual training market (estimated $9.03 billion in 2012), and simulation-based learning (revenues estimated at $2.48 billion by 2015) are natural fits to an ANSIBLE like tool. Further, the growth rate of virtual meetings in companies is estimated to be 80, with tools like Conversity meetings bringing together global team members for 'face-to-face' exchanges in Second Life. These technologies are expected to expand into eLearning, enterprise social software, and VA assisted online commerce. All these different market segments are potential future markets for ANSIBLE.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2014 
Task Progress: New project for FY2014. Reporting not required for this SBIR Phase 2 project.

[Ed. note: added to Task Book when received information on the task in September 2015]

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: ) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 None in FY 2014