Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Once more please, with feeling

02.06.2004


Animated characters on the Internet are often soulless. They stare, speak monotonously and have limited facial expression. More realistic characters are being tested by a European team of researchers. Could such enhanced characters benefit e-commerce and build better Web-based communities?



Most of us interact with our computers by punching keys. But the time is ripe for a more sophisticated and realistic interface. One way forward is to program characters known as avatars. They can be given a ’personality’ and sent out onto the Web to react with other characters or to search for information. Unfortunately, these characters mainly communicate with us through text input/output.

The latest avatars, known as Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs), come with more human characteristics. Though still cartoonish in appearance, they can also simulate communication amongst themselves.


"ECAs can communicate at several levels," says Brigitte Krenn. She is project coordinator for the IST programme’s NECA (Net Environments for Embodied Emotional Conversational Agents) project, now completing research into ’multimodal’ communication for synthetic personalities - including voice modulation, body posture and gestures.

"We simulate embodied conversation, by generating stories involving animated characters who work with each other," she adds. "They have credible personalities and affective behaviour." That is, they can arouse emotions or affection in us, the viewers.

The project calls on technologies such as speech synthesis, situation-based generation of natural language, and modelling of emotions and personality. The results feature in two demonstrators on the project’s website.

eShowroom demonstrates a new way of presenting products online. Two characters - a seller and buyer - simulate a car-sales dialogue. The goal is to entertain the website visitor while providing useful information through the characters’ conversation. Before the conversation starts, each character must be programmed in terms of its personality (how friendly, polite, and so on). The visitor also selects the importance accorded to various car features - the vehicle’s sportiness, prestige and impact on the environment. Then the characters are set loose to interact with one another on-screen. They talk, raising their voice if annoyed, and make appropriate facial expressions and gestures.

"Whatever the presentation - which depends on the parameters selected, the content is ultimately the same," says Krenn. She sees this approach as a way of combining fun with information, typically lacking in today’s box-ticking e-commerce applications.

The second demonstrator includes an existing virtual community known as Spittelberg, which NECA helped to revive. It uses the same technology for animating a conversation, but takes a different approach. "Our community has real people in it, each represented by an avatar, with email and chatroom facilities," says Krenn, who has several alter-egos of her own there. You create your avatar and send it out to interact with others. The process can lead to new friendships between the avatars and eventually among their creators.

"Our characters are still cartoon-like, because even the best speech synthesis and computer-generated animation are far from real," notes Krenn. But she believes that injecting a little more humanity into computer interfaces would make the Internet a more interesting and attractive place.

Contact:
Brigitte Krenn
Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (ÖFAI)
Freyung 6/3/1a
A-1010 Vienna
Austria
Tel: +43-153246212
Fax: +43-1-42779631
Email: brigitte@ai.univie.ac.at

Tara Morris | IST Results
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/index.cfm?section=news&tpl=article&ID=65283

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht On patrol in social networks
25.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Tile Based DASH Streaming for Virtual Reality with HEVC from Fraunhofer HHI
03.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik Heinrich-Hertz-Institut

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>