The purpose of this section is to provide the reader with a brief insight on Embodied Conversational agents ( ECAs). This chapter is organized into three section. The First section gives a general overview about ECAs through literature review. The second Section explores some concerns related to the use of agent in different contexts. The third section considers the design decision’s perspectives of virtual agents
Embodied Conversational Agents ( ECAs)
Embodied agents are computer interfaces which exhibit human-like behaviors (e.g. non-verbal behavior, audio-visual speech, or personality and emotion) . The embodied interface is presented as human face by using state-of-art technology such as realistic three dimensional (3D) facial images. Additionally, Embodied Conversational agents (ECA) is defined by as “an interface in which the systems is represented as a person … such as voice and hand gestures and the internal representation is modality independent and both propositional and non-propositional”. And Kramer states that “virtual agents that are capable of conducting human-like dialogs with the user” , does this make it intelligent? Waern states that “"intelligent system" does not necessarily have an intelligent interface, and neither is a well-designed interface necessarily intelligent.” Waern also explains that both intelligent and well-designed interfaces are too broad and not well defined. Therefore this question remains unanswered.
Studies have suggested that the use of human social skills by embodied agents will ensure more natural and engaging interaction. On the other hand, other studies argue that embodied agents which use human behavior skills may produce false picture of their abilities due to the fact that they may be perceived more intelligent than they really are . Furthermore, in the next two sections we will describe some limitations of Embodied Conversational agents, and indicate the design decision’s perspectives of virtual agents.
Limitations of Embodied Conversational Agents (ECA):
Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs) are facing many technical and social issues that will need to be overcome in order to make the interfaces more widespread, accessible and acceptable in society.
First, the major technical issue is the poor quality of realistic looking virtual humans with a lack of emotional intelligence such as empathy, facial expression and gesture. The existing embodied agents’ graphics are often poor, also monotone voice is widely used by this type of interface for communication purpose . Therefore, agents’ ability to have an effective interaction will be limited due to inadequate language and emotional capabilities.
Second, the social issue that can arise from using embodied agents interfaces is the resistance to change. Social barriers such as culture can create resistance to change in a way that users will not accept the idea of using embodied interfaces and interacting with a...