The aim of this corporate project is to achieve by means of a close cooperation of Germany's leading research groups in the area of computational graphics and multimodal user interfaces a worldwide leading position in the development of virtual characters as personal dialogue partners. Through this close cooperation it will be possible to reach an entirely new quality of interactive systems. One possible field of application is, for instance, educational software where the personification of the tutor system demonstrably leads to a better learning efficiency and secures a lasting learning success. Alongside this field of application, all interactive web applications - and here especially e-business - contribute to the huge application potential of the technologies that are to be developed in this project.
This corporate project will deal with the utterly new question of how the animation and dialogue behaviour of virtual characters can be planned completely autonomously in real-time. This idea stands in clear opposition to the manually animated virtual actors made in long-winded computational processes created for the film industry, as well as those avatars in chat-rooms and video-conferences that are remotely controlled by a human actor. As the virtual character has to react to the behaviour of a human user as naturally as possible and to react appropriately to the situation, the requirements of the computer graphic design as well as of the quality of the multimodal user interaction are novel and highly demanding.
The credibility of the virtual dialogue partner towards his audience and their acceptance and impression of his realism depends on the following factors:
- Visual acceptance and aesthetic attractiveness of the character and his appearance
- Reliable multimodal dialogues with regard to affective components
- Reasonable reactions to perceived user actions and environment, adaptability to topic, situation and user
- Reliable, spontaneous, psychological, emotional and semantically consistent motion and dialogue behaviour
- Practical efficiency for the realisation of attractive applications by authors outside of the field of informatics
There are two possible ways of interacting and working with virtual humans: on the one hand there are the consumers who interact with the virtual humans, who are learning with them or who receive advice from them, and on the other hand there are the producers who program tutor-agents and sales-agents, who develop training situations or the looks of a virtual character. Both offer different challenges:
- Consumers (or users) Real time demonstrations of synchronised animation and speech, real-time generation of explicit animations of speech and behavioural components, perception behaviour and interpretation of surroundings.
- Producers (or authors) Acquisition methods, author environment, character design and modelling, personality and behaviour configuration on a highly abstract level, rule-based systems, stage directions, dialogue-authoring, integration and usage within automatic storytelling-structures.
- DFKI GmbH (Konsortialleitung)
- Fraunhofer IGD
- Fraunhofer IMK
- ZGDV e.V.
- Charamel GmbH
- OTLO VR Systeme GmbH
- rmh - new media gmbh