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OFAI-TR-99-11 ( 45kB g-zipped PostScript file,  19kB PDF file)

Towards Engaging Full-Body Interaction

Paolo Petta, Alexander Staller, Robert Trappl, Stephan Mantler, Zsolt Szalavari, Thomas Psik, Michael Gervautz

We implemented an interactive virtual environment based on the magic mirror metaphor introduced with the MIT ALIVE project MIT. Our permanent exhibit in the Vienna Museum of Technology aims at taking advantage of the possibility opened up by this particular kind of unencumbered immersion in a virtual environment for the users to bring in their rich expertise in full-body action and communication, so as to provide a satisfying and truly interactive experience for laypersons. To this end, the system comprises a synthetic character, the Invisible Person, designed to improvise with the visitors. Evidence from the deployment of public virtual environments under comparable circumstances indicates that the use of highly specialized domains faces limited success. In order to avoid these problems and also to mitigate the effect of the inevitable limitations of systems dependent on purely vision-based user tracking, the Invisible Person was designed to be suggestive of adequate kinds of interaction. Together with the employment of high-quality motion-captured animation, the balance between the full capabilities of the agents and the capabilities elicited from the human user contributes to make the exhibit interesting to visit. In addition, the simple scenario also opened up the opportunity to deploy and evaluate a situated implementation of the functional appraisal theory of emotions to contribute to the solution of the action expression problem. The system has been a major attraction of the museum since its re-opening in June, 1999. Currently, a first evaluation is underway to determine directions of future improvements. Likely candidates include better coverage of specific situations and implementation of short- and long-term adaptive strategies. Especially for the latter, the generative approach of the employed emotion model is expected to go a long way towards ensuring preservation of consistent behaviour even with changing system parameters, obviating the need of complex re-engineering as would be required for reified shallow emotion models.

Keywords: Action Expression, Affective Computing, Emotion, Interactive, Graphics, Synthetic Actors

Citation: Petta P., Staller A., Trappl R., Mantler S., Szalavari Z., Psik T., Gervautz M.: Towards Engaging Full-Body Interaction, in Proc. of HCI International '99, Munich, Germany, August 22-27, 1999.