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Title: Embodied conversational agents : extending the persona metaphor to virtual retail applications
Author: McBreen, Helen
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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Engineering computer interfaces to communicate through the modality of speech serves to bridge the communicative gap between computers and their human users. Adding non-verbal performances to these spoken language interfaces, through the creation of embodied conversational agents, initiates dialogues where users' innate communicative capabilities are used for the benefit of a more engaging and effective interaction. Anthropomorphising the interface with lifelike behaviour animates the communicative process and recent research suggests that the extension of this persona metaphor into retail applications will provide personalised real-time interactions for users, improving on­line relationships. This thesis is a contribution to the emerging and innovative area of embodied conversational agents. It is undertaken to advance knowledge about the effectiveness of these agents in electronic retail applications. To date, few empirical studies have documented user perceptions of the agents and this has thus become the primary research objective of this thesis. The interdisciplinary investigation aims to determine how embodied conversational agents should be physically represented in retail interfaces. The research involves the undertaking of a series of progressive empirical evaluations. Firstly, a retail interface template was created, where variations of the persona metaphor were evaluated using participatory observation techniques. Following this an interactive spoken language system, inhabited with embodied conversational agents was designed and implemented to serve as an experiment platform from which to evaluate the perceived and expected behaviour of agents in contrasting retail applications. This interactive system was then used to determine the effectiveness of multi-modal interface features designed to improve the trustworthiness of the agents in applications where users are asked to make financial transactions. The conclusions drawn from this body of research are intended to support design guidelines and interface development strategies for the most effective deployment of embodied conversational agents in virtual retail applications.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available