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Meta-Theater with Animated Presentation Agents

CrossTalk is an attempt to create a spatially extended interaction experience. Instead of the usual interaction with one frontal screen, CrossTalk offers two separated screens where the agents "live" and which are spatially arranged as to form a triangle with the user. The name CrossTalk underlines the fact that different animated agents have cross-screen conversations amongst themselves. This setting serves to explore the meta-theater metaphor for a new variant of information presentation in public spaces, such as a booth at a trade fair or a product information kiosk in a department store. The meta-theater metaphor lets agents live beyond the actual presentation, as professional actors, enriching the interactive experience of the user with unexpected intermezzi and rehearsal periods. The technical realisation of this approach relies on a fine-grained interweaving of automatically generated sales dialogues that the agents perform to inform a booth/kiosk visitor about a certain product, and manually scripted scenes which allow the agents to engage in "off-duty" conversations, e.g., when they feel unobserved by visitors.