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 Between filter bubbles, uneven visibility and transnationality
06.12.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

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

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>