Looking at the Interaction Management with New Eyes - Conversational Synchrony and Cooperation using Eye Gaze

Conference paper


Human conversations are surprisingly fluent concerning the interlocutors’ turn-taking and feedback behaviour. Many studies have shown the accurate timing of utterances and pointed out how the speakers synchronize and align their behaviour to produce smooth and efficient communication. Especially such paralinguistic aspects as gesturing, eye-gaze, and facial expressions provide important signals for interaction management: they allow coordination and control of interaction in an unobtrusive manner, besides also displaying the interlocutor’s attitudes and emotional state. In the context of Interaction Technology, realistic models of interaction and synchronization are also important. The system is regarded as one of the participating agents, in particular when dealing with applications like robot companions. The key concept in such interaction strategies is linked to the notion of affordance: interaction should readily suggest to the user the appropriate ways to use the interface. The challenges for Interaction Technology thus do not deal with enabling interaction in the first place, but rather with designing systems that support rich multimodal communication possibilities and human-technology interfacing that is more conversational in style. This talk explored various prerequisites and enablements of communication, seen as cooperative activity which emerges from the speakers’ capability to synchronize their intentions. We sought to address some of the main challenges related to construction of the shared knowledge and most notably, we focus on eye-gaze and discuss its use in interaction coordination: providing feedback and taking turns. We also discussed issues related to collecting and analysing eye-tracking data in natural human-human conversations, and present preliminary experiments concerning the role of eye-gaze in interaction management. The discussion also extended towards other paralinguistic aspects of communication: in multiparty dialogues head movement and gesturing also play a crucial role in signalling the person’s intention to take, hold, or yield the turn.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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