Creating Interactive Virtual Humans: Some Assembly Required

Jonathan Gratch, Jeff Rickel, Elisabeth André, Norman Badler, Justine Cassell, Eric Petajan

ABSTRACT:Building a virtual human is a multidisciplinary effort, joining traditional artificial intelligence problems with a range of issues from computer graphics to social science. Virtual humans must act and react in their simulated environment, drawing on the disciplines of automated reasoning and planning. To hold a conversation, they must exploit the full gamut of natural language research, from speech recognition and natural language understanding to natural language generation and speech synthesis. Providing human bodies that can be controlled in real time delves into computer graphics and animation. And because an agent looks like a human, people expect it to behave like one as well and will be disturbed by, or misinterpret, discrepancies from human norms. Thus, virtual human research must draw heavily on psychology and communication theory to appropriately convey nonverbal behavior, emotion, and personality.