Jul 31, 2014 4:12 PM by NBC News
In Afghanistan, a new therapist is talking with soldiers. Her name is Ellie, she is the face of a computer program and she could be the key to identifying PTSD in America's military.
Equipped with a Microsoft Kinect motion sensor, she nods at the right time, urges patients on with a well-timed "uh-huh," and knows when to stop talking. A study released earlier this month found that patients were more willing to open up to Ellie than to a human therapist, mostly because they felt like they were not being judged by the computer program.
Ellie isn't designed to replace therapists. Instead, her program, called SimSensei, could be used as a screening tool for the military and hospitals. Currently, it's being tested by members of the National Guard in Afghanistan, but eventually it could be used by civilians suffering from everything from depression to cancer.
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