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The Embodied Conversational Agent Toolkit : a new modularization approach.

Werf, R.J. van der (2008) The Embodied Conversational Agent Toolkit : a new modularization approach.

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Abstract:This thesis shows a new modularization approach for Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs). This approach is titled the Embodied Conversational Agent Toolkit (ECAT). ECAT builds upon the SAIBA framework, which proposed a three stage modularization of ECAs. ECAT focuses on the third stage, called behavior realization. The process of behavior realization can be summarized as: turning high-level behavior specifications into audiovisual rendering of an ECA. Internally this boils down to firstly converting high-level specifications into low-level specifications and secondly rendering these low-level specifications. In between these two tasks is exactly where ECAT proposes a split. ECAT defines compilation as being the process of converting high-level specifications into low-level specifications and translation as the rendering of these low-level specifications. In addition to these two stages one preliminary stage is introduced called interpretation. Interpretation is meant to bridge between the wide variety of applications which are generating behaviors on the one hand and on the other hand the stage of compilation. An ECA using ECAT uses one component for each stage: one Interpreter, one Compiler and one Translator. These three components are separated by two TCP/IP socket interfaces. This keeps the different components language and platform independent of each other. Both interfaces use XML languages for communication. The first interface currently uses the Multimodal Utterance Representation Markup Language (MURML). In addition to MURML this interface has future support for the Behavior Markup Language (BML), which is also used in the SAIBA framework. The second interface uses a custom markup language. Proof-of-concept prototype components have been implemented for each of the three stages. One functional pipeline, including three components, is based on an existing ECA called NUMACK. Parts of this ECA have been reimplemented and modularized according to the three stages of ECAT. The performance of the ECAT version of NUMACK is similar to the original version. This shows that ECAs can be successfully implemented using ECAT. The proof-of-concept components can serve as an example for future components. The ultimate goal is to create a repository of components which can be shared and reused among researchers. Since ECAT supports and builds upon BML as an interface, a collection of ECAT components will also help the SAIBA framework to grow to a wider accepted standard.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Clients:
ArticuLab, School of Communication / School of Engineering, Northwestern University, United States of America
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:54 computer science
Programme:Interaction Technology MSc (60030)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/58336
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