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Lip-reading: Furhat audio visual intelligibility of a back projected animated face
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8579-1790
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1399-6604
2012 (English)In: Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2012, 196-203 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Back projecting a computer animated face, onto a three dimensional static physical model of a face, is a promising technology that is gaining ground as a solution to building situated, flexible and human-like robot heads. In this paper, we first briefly describe Furhat, a back projected robot head built for the purpose of multimodal multiparty human-machine interaction, and its benefits over virtual characters and robotic heads; and then motivate the need to investigating the contribution to speech intelligibility Furhat's face offers. We present an audio-visual speech intelligibility experiment, in which 10 subjects listened to short sentences with degraded speech signal. The experiment compares the gain in intelligibility between lip reading a face visualized on a 2D screen compared to a 3D back-projected face and from different viewing angles. The results show that the audio-visual speech intelligibility holds when the avatar is projected onto a static face model (in the case of Furhat), and even, rather surprisingly, exceeds it. This means that despite the movement limitations back projected animated face models bring about; their audio visual speech intelligibility is equal, or even higher, compared to the same models shown on flat displays. At the end of the paper we discuss several hypotheses on how to interpret the results, and motivate future investigations to better explore the characteristics of visual speech perception 3D projected faces.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2012. 196-203 p.
, Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), ISSN 0302-9743 ; 7502 LNAI
Keyword [en]
Furhat, Lip reading, Robot Heads, Talking Head, Visual Speech
National Category
Computer Science Language Technology (Computational Linguistics)
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-104969DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-33197-8-20ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84867509147ISBN: 978-364233196-1OAI: diva2:567899
12th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, IVA 2012, 12 September 2012 through 14 September 2012, Santa Cruz, CA
ICT - The Next Generation

QC 20121114

Available from: 2012-11-14 Created: 2012-11-14 Last updated: 2013-04-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Bringing the avatar to life: Studies and developments in facial communication for virtual agents and robots
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bringing the avatar to life: Studies and developments in facial communication for virtual agents and robots
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The work presented in this thesis comes in pursuit of the ultimate goal of building spoken and embodied human-like interfaces that are able to interact with humans under human terms. Such interfaces need to employ the subtle, rich and multidimensional signals of communicative and social value that complement the stream of words – signals humans typically use when interacting with each other.

The studies presented in the thesis concern facial signals used in spoken communication, and can be divided into two connected groups. The first is targeted towards exploring and verifying models of facial signals that come in synchrony with speech and its intonation. We refer to this as visual-prosody, and as part of visual-prosody, we take prominence as a case study. We show that the use of prosodically relevant gestures in animated faces results in a more expressive and human-like behaviour. We also show that animated faces supported with these gestures result in more intelligible speech which in turn can be used to aid communication, for example in noisy environments.

The other group of studies targets facial signals that complement speech. As spoken language is a relatively poor system for the communication of spatial information; since such information is visual in nature. Hence, the use of visual movements of spatial value, such as gaze and head movements, is important for an efficient interaction. The use of such signals is especially important when the interaction between the human and the embodied agent is situated – that is when they share the same physical space, and while this space is taken into account in the interaction.

We study the perception, the modelling, and the interaction effects of gaze and head pose in regulating situated and multiparty spoken dialogues in two conditions. The first is the typical case where the animated face is displayed on flat surfaces, and the second where they are displayed on a physical three-dimensional model of a face. The results from the studies show that projecting the animated face onto a face-shaped mask results in an accurate perception of the direction of gaze that is generated by the avatar, and hence can allow for the use of these movements in multiparty spoken dialogue.

Driven by these findings, the Furhat back-projected robot head is developed. Furhat employs state-of-the-art facial animation that is projected on a 3D printout of that face, and a neck to allow for head movements. Although the mask in Furhat is static, the fact that the animated face matches the design of the mask results in a physical face that is perceived to “move”.

We present studies that show how this technique renders a more intelligible, human-like and expressive face. We further present experiments in which Furhat is used as a tool to investigate properties of facial signals in situated interaction.

Furhat is built to study, implement, and verify models of situated and multiparty, multimodal Human-Machine spoken dialogue, a study that requires that the face is physically situated in the interaction environment rather than in a two-dimensional screen. It also has received much interest from several communities, and been showcased at several venues, including a robot exhibition at the London Science Museum. We present an evaluation study of Furhat at the exhibition where it interacted with several thousand persons in a multiparty conversation. The analysis of the data from the setup further shows that Furhat can accurately regulate multiparty interaction using gaze and head movements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. xxvi, 96 p.
Trita-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2012:15
Avatar, Speech Communication, Facial animation, Nonverbal, Social, Robot, Human-like, Face-to-face, Prosody, Pitch, Prominence, Furhat, Gaze, Head-pose, Dialogue, Interaction, Multimodal, Multiparty
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-105605 (URN)978-91-7501-551-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-12-07, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 13:30 (English)

QC 20121123

Available from: 2012-11-23 Created: 2012-11-22 Last updated: 2012-12-10Bibliographically approved

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Al Moubayed, SamerSkantze, GabrielBeskow, Jonas
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