The Virtual Guide is an embodied conversational agent developed at HMI that gives directions in a virtual environment (a 3D theatre building). The Virtual Guide can answer questions related to the locations of objects in the 3D building, display routes and locations on a map, and give route directions using speech and gesture.
A movie and a webdemo of the Virtual Guide can be found here:
Recently the Virtual Guide has been extended so that it can dynamically adapt its linguistic style to the level of politeness and formality detected in the user’s utterances (De Jong et al., 2008). For example, it will recognize user utterances such as "Could you please show me the way to..." as being polite, and "Show me the way to...!" as being impolite. The system will then react with an utterance that is also formulated in a more or less polite way, depending on parameters that specify the system’s initial level of politeness and formality, as well as its degree of alignment.
So far, the Guide only adapts its language to the required level of politeness. The goal of this project is to extend this also to its use of gestures (Rehm & André 2005,2007) and possibly other nonverbal behaviour. The results should be evaluated by means of interactive user experiments (users interacting with the Virtual Guide).
Other possible research topics include:
- improving the politeness model by taking the "face threatening" value of speech acts into account (for some dialogue acts, politeness is more important than others)
- investigating the effect of different parameter settings on the way users perceive the Guide's personality and various aspects of the interaction
Requirements: interest in verbal and nonverbal communication; basic knowledge of JAVA.
Markus de Jong, Mariët Theune and Dennis Hofs. Politeness and Alignment in Dialogues with a Virtual Guide. In the Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2008), 12-16 May 2008, Estoril, Portugal, pp. 207-214, 2008.
Matthias Rehm and Elisabeth André. More Than Just a Friendly Phrase: Multimodal Aspects of Polite Behavior in Agents. Conversational Informatics, Toyoaki Nishida, Wiley, 2007.
Matthias Rehm and Elisabeth André. Informing the Design of Embodied Conversational Agents by Analyzing Multimodal Politeness Behaviors in Human-Human Communication. In AISB Symposium for Conversational Informatics, 2005.
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University of Twente (HMI) is part of the location Twente