Virtual Humans

Embodied conversational agents (ECA’s) are animated characters that emulate humanlike communication. The need for humanlike ECAs is precipitously rising in a variety of fields, ranging from patient assistants in healthcare, trainers in maintenance or logistics, to intelligent tutoring systems in education and lifelong learning.

Despite the fact that many studies show transfer of human characteristics in humanlike ECAs, most ECAs tend to look cartoonlike at best and creepy at worst. Interestingly, it yields a negative (rather than increasingly positive) emotional effect when humans interact with a near-human virtual agent.

The project
The proposed project combines fundamental research, industrial research and experimental research. State-of-the-art digital humans will be developed and evaluated in order to answer some fundamental research questions and deployment of technologies.

During the project, two individuals are scanned in, one male and one female, in the most comprehensive way. All steps in the process will be registered for analysing purposes in order to learn where time and cost efficiency benefits can be achieved. Also in the scanning process, the focus will be on the light situation as polarised light sources for instance are essential to get the most neutral results.

The project maps onto the “Knowledge and Innovation Agenda for the Creative
Industry 2020-2023” by exploring the possibilities of building hyperreal embodied agents, developing new and cost-effective opportunities for the creative industries, thereby combining arts, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and experimental psychology.

Project budget €670,779, with €540,410 PPS surcharge being used.

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