The SEMAINE API: A Component Integration Framework for a Naturally Interacting and Emotionally Competent Embodied Conversational Agent

. Fachrichtung Informatik, Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken, Dissertation, (January 2011)


The present thesis addresses the topic area of Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs) with capabilities for natural interaction with a human user and emotional competence with respect to the perception and generation of emotional expressivity. The focus is on the technological underpinnings that facilitate the implementation of a real-time system with these capabilities, built from re-usable components. The thesis comprises three main contributions. First, it describes a new component integration framework, the SEMAINE API, which makes it easy to build emotion-oriented systems from components which interact with one another using standard and pre-standard XML representations. Second, it presents a prepare-and-trigger system architecture which substantially speeds up the time to animation for system utterances that can be pre-planned. Third, it reports on the W3C Emotion Markup Language, an upcoming web standard for representing emotions in technological systems. We assess critical aspects of system performance, showing that the framework provides a good basis for implementing real-time interactive ECA systems, and illustrate by means of three examples that the SEMAINE API makes it is easy to build new emotion-oriented systems from new and existing components.

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