An Evaluation of Virtual Human Technology

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An Evaluation of Virtual Human Technology
Authors: Curry Gin, Rob Hubal
Category: Design/Technology

Summary Research about results of using spoken language in interactive virtual characters in information kiosks. Created three applications, field-tested in separate shows. There was iteration for each show, according to findings/feedback from previous show of these applications.


  • About system:
    • 3 applications in which avatars interacted with users according to a set of questions and pre-defined interactions according to the venue where the system was implemented (tradeshow).
    • Avatar as it replies to questions on a determined company, displayed images and content related to the question to be answered.
    • Avatar was limited to a female and male character.
  • About user experience:
    • Given prompting, the users covered the range of topics designed into the applications. It Some specific lessons learned include
    • It is critical in applications to be able to detect and respond appropriately to “bad” or inappropriate input.
    • Without explicit prompting by the virtual character, users often seemed lost as to what to say next.
    • Problems appeared when the user replied with very complex compound sentences, multiple sentence, and even paragraph long utterances.
    • Ultimately, because of the limitations in language understanding, the user would adapt to environment, adjusting the manner in which they spoke.
  • What it did not consider:
    • Are there differences in acceptance of virtual characters across boundaries of age, gender, education level, and cultural divides?
    • Usability and acceptability studies with varied degrees of visual realism. How realistic do virtual characters have to be in order to receive high ratings of acceptability by users?
    • What is the contrast in user impressions between video of actual humans versus more cartoon-like animated characters?

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