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Impacting the social presence of virtual agents by scaling the fidelity of their speech and movement – Thesis defense

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2015-01-23, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Hamburg

Impacting the social presence of virtual agents by scaling the fidelity of their speech and movement – Thesis defense

Virtual agents are constructs that fulfill human or human-like roles in virtual environments, but are directly controlled by software instead of real humans. They have use cases such as presenting information, demonstrationg actions or simulating a social environment. If a real person perceives them as sufficiently human-like, they may induce social phenomena like empathy, competition or conversational turn taking, even if the real person is consciously aware that the agent is purely virtual.

My master's thesis explores the influence of technical fidelity in terms of their speech and movement. Both of these two variables were assigned different implementations of varying technical sophistication, from text-to-speech output to fully recorded voices and from a completely rigid idle body to a high-quality relaxed idle animation based on motion capturing data. The various combinations were tested in an experiment using a head-mounted virtual reality display in order to measure their influence on perceived social presence. In this talk, I described the experiment and summarized its results.

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