Speech Technology pp 123-149
Interacting with Embodied Conversational Agents
The objective to develop more human-centred, personalized and at the same time more engaging speech-based interactive systems immediately leads to the metaphor of an embodied conversational agent (ECA) that employs gestures, mimics and speech to communicate with the human user. During the last decade research groups as well as a number of commercial software developers have started to deploy embodied conversational characters in the user interface especially in those application areas where a close emulation of multimodal human–human communication is needed. This trend is motivated by a number of supporting arguments. First, virtual characters allow for communication styles common in human–human dialogue and thus can release users unaccustomed to technology from the burden to learn and familiarize with less native interaction techniques. Then, a personification of the interface can contribute to a feeling of trust in the system by removing anonymity from the interaction. Furthermore, well-designed characters show great potential for making interfacing with a computer system more enjoyable.