Navigation path

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Indonesia
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Jamaica
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lichtenstein
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Madagascar
  Malaysia
  Malta
  Mexico
  Montenegro
  Morocco
  Mozambique
  Namibia
  Netherlands
  New Zealand
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Panama
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Senegal
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Sri Lanka
  Swaziland
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tanzania
  Thailand
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Uganda
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States
  Vietnam

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport


   Countries

Last Update: 19-09-2013  
Related category(ies):
Information society  |  Success stories

 

Countries involved in the project described in the article:
Czech Republic  |  Finland  |  France  |  Italy  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom  |  United States
Add to PDF "basket"

Virtual companions making interaction more social

Most of us interact with computers of one sort or another on a daily basis – but this 'interaction' is generally task-oriented and rather one-sided. Making computer interfaces more 'human' has been a long-standing ambition for researchers. A team of European researchers has developed exciting prototypes that go some way to doing just that.

©  violetkaipa - Fotolia.com

The virtual-companions-for-conversation system developed by researchers at EU-funded COMPANIONS ('Companions: persistent multi-modal interfaces to the Internet') moves on from traditional task-based interaction to social interaction.

Launched in 2006, COMPANIONS sought to bring to the internet a tailor-made, conversational interface that recognises its user. A key component of the research was machine learning – developing software with the ability to learn without explicitly programming it to modify the way it behaves.

The technology will be particularly beneficial for those living alone. More than a third those living in advanced societies will live alone by the mid- to late-2020s – of which 50percent will be pensioners. It will be particularly important for this group to have access to a virtual interactive companion, providing conversation and diversion.

This interaction will help reduce depression (loss of companions is considered a key trigger of depression among the elderly), and act as an alternative access point to resources on the internet.

The team’s English Companion is able to listen to long statements or remarks in English and respond appropriately to what the user is saying. The Companion can also engage the user by responding, expressing interest and empathy – something the users often need to receive.

This ability to express interest and empathy is new and exciting. The Companion does this by analysing a person’s voice and the content of his or her dialogue before responding. It then uses a set of embedded rules to produce the right 'emovoice'. For example, this emovoice can state negative-active, negative-passive, neutral, positive-passive and positive-active expressions.

The team also developed a Czech Companion, which shows key advances in the Czech language: automatic speech recognition; natural language understanding; natural language generation; and text to speech synthesis. The Companion can be combined with current dialogue management techniques so as to deliver natural-sounding dialogue.

The Senior Companion is designed to engage users in dialogue on news, photos and funny stories. It can find tagged photos of users on the internet and create a timeline bringing together life events and special memories.

The Health and Fitness Companion focuses on improved wellbeing, nutrition and exercise – for example by asking its owner whether he or she will go for a run that day, and suggesting taking a packed lunch.

The Companion does not have to be accessed on a traditional computer. It can be used via a mobile phone, a computer shaped like a head or even a handbag, the team suggests.

Project details

  • Project acronym: COMPANIONS
  • Participants: United Kingdom (Coordinator), Sweden, Spain, United States, France, Czech Republic, Finland, Italy
  • Project FP6 34434
  • Total costs: €12 485 901
  • EU contribution: €10 178 218
  • Duration: November 2006 - October 2010

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Project web site
Project information on CORDIS





  Top   Research Information Center