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 New Technologies for A/V Analysis and Search
13.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

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

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>