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University of Iowa News Release

June 9, 2004

Photo: Karim Abdel-Malek, associate professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Virtual Soldier Research program

UI To Unveil Virtual Soldier Program At National Meeting

The University of Iowa College of Engineering's Virtual Soldier Research (VSR) program recently announced that it will provide a sneak preview of its Santos digital human environment during the June 15-17 annual meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Digital Human Modeling Conference in Oakland, Mich.

Funded primarily by a renewable $2.5 million one-year contract with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command Center (TACOM), the nationally renowned VSR program conducts basic and applied research for creating new technologies dealing with digital human modeling and simulation. Called "digital humans," the computer screen characters resemble real people and have the potential to save time and money in the testing and evaluation of products, equipment, vehicles and armaments prior to manufacture.

The Santos digital human model has deformable skin, contracting muscles and anatomically correct form and "lives" in a real-time interactive immersive virtual reality environment. The environment will be used to simulate design, manufacturing, sports, training, maintenance and communication of industry and military products, says Karim Abdel-Malek, associate professor of biomedical engineering and director of VSR, which resides in the Center for Computer Aided Design (CCAD). He adds that a date for releasing Santos has not been specified, however more information about Santos may be found at:

"The objective is to create human-like life on the computer, virtual humans/soldiers that can walk, behave and talk like we do, yet are able to answer questions in the virtual world autonomously," says Abdel-Malek. "Rather than building a vehicle, a tank or a weapon system, we allow the virtual soldier to experience the product in the virtual world, thus providing feedback without building a prototype."

VSR researchers include faculty, staff, scientists, engineers, clinical researchers and graduate students from fields including engineering, gaming, psychology, biomechanics, human factors, computers, optimization and industrial design.

The UI VSR Team is scheduled to host the 2005 SAE Digital Human Modeling Conference, the most prestigious international conference of its kind, June 14-16, 2005, in Iowa City.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,