Special Issue "Intelligent Virtual Agents"

A special issue of Multimodal Technologies and Interaction (ISSN 2414-4088).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Spyros Vosinakis

University of the Aegean, Greece
Website | E-Mail
Interests: virtual reality; virtual agents; digital heritage; serious games; natural user interfaces

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) are embodied digital characters situated in a virtual, augmented, or mixed reality environment that look, communicate, and act like ‘living’ creatures, real, or fictional. A distinctive characteristic of IVAs is that their behavior should exhibit some aspects of human intelligence, including autonomous behavior, communication and coordination with other IVAs, dialogues with humans, and learning capabilities. Additionally, IVAs are expected to be believable, i.e., to have a consistent behavior, to exhibit some form of personality and emotions, to communicate and interact in a plausible way, etc. There are plenty of application areas that may benefit from IVAs, including intelligent non-player characters (NPCs) in computer games, virtual tutors in educational software, virtual assistants, ‘living’ characters or virtual guides in digital heritage environments, animated crowd in simulations, etc.

The design and development of effective IVAs requires the adoption of theories, models and tools from related disciplines, including Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Life, Virtual Reality and Human–Computer Interaction, and, as such, it presents significant research challenges. Generic issues, such as design and evaluation methodologies, development tools and platforms, and believability assessment, as well as more specific issues related to agent behavior, interaction and communication, are under active research. Furthermore, the recent emergence of novel interaction techniques and devices, including mobile augmented reality, natural user interfaces and low-cost immersive VR, presents further challenges for IVA embodiment and communication with humans.

For this Special Issue, authors are encouraged to submit original research articles, case studies or reviews on IVAs and their applications. Of particular interest are articles that explore important theoretical or applied aspects related to the design and evaluation of believable IVAs, their integration with emerging interaction technologies, and/or their effective usage in application fields, such as education, entertainment, and cultural heritage.

Dr. Spyros Vosinakis
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • intelligent virtual agents
  • intelligent agents
  • virtual humans
  • embodied conversational agents
  • human-agent communication
  • behavioral animation
  • virtual reality

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle A Two-Study Approach to Explore the Effect of User Characteristics on Users’ Perception and Evaluation of a Virtual Assistant’s Appearance
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2018, 2(4), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2040066
Received: 30 July 2018 / Revised: 5 September 2018 / Accepted: 22 September 2018 / Published: 2 October 2018
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Abstract
This research investigates the effect of different user characteristics on the perception and evaluation of an agent’s appearance variables. Therefore, two different experiments have been conducted. In a 3 × 3 × 5 within-subjects design (Study 1; N = 59), three different target [...] Read more.
This research investigates the effect of different user characteristics on the perception and evaluation of an agent’s appearance variables. Therefore, two different experiments have been conducted. In a 3 × 3 × 5 within-subjects design (Study 1; N = 59), three different target groups (students, elderly, and cognitively impaired people) evaluated 30 different agent appearances that varied in species (human, animal, and robot) and realism (high detail, low detail, stylized shades, stylized proportion, and stylized shade with stylized proportion). Study 2 (N = 792) focused on the effect of moderating variables regarding the same appearance variables and aims to supplement findings of Study 1 based on a 3 × 5 between-subjects design. Results showed effects of species and realism on person perception, users’ liking, and using intention. In a direct comparison, a higher degree of realism was perceived as more positive, while those effects were not replicated in Study 2. Further on, a majority evaluated nonhumanoid agents more positively. Since no interaction effects of species and realism have been found, the effects of stylization seem to equally influence the perception for all kind of species. Moreover, the importance of the target group’s preference was demonstrated, since differences with regard to the appearance evaluation were found. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Virtual Agents)
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Open AccessArticle Enhancing Trust in Autonomous Vehicles through Intelligent User Interfaces That Mimic Human Behavior
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2018, 2(4), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2040062
Received: 19 July 2018 / Revised: 31 August 2018 / Accepted: 21 September 2018 / Published: 24 September 2018
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Abstract
Autonomous vehicles use sensors and artificial intelligence to drive themselves. Surveys indicate that people are fascinated by the idea of autonomous driving, but are hesitant to relinquish control of the vehicle. Lack of trust seems to be the core reason for these concerns. [...] Read more.
Autonomous vehicles use sensors and artificial intelligence to drive themselves. Surveys indicate that people are fascinated by the idea of autonomous driving, but are hesitant to relinquish control of the vehicle. Lack of trust seems to be the core reason for these concerns. In order to address this, an intelligent agent approach was implemented, as it has been argued that human traits increase trust in interfaces. Where other approaches mainly use anthropomorphism to shape appearances, the current approach uses anthropomorphism to shape the interaction, applying Gricean maxims (i.e., guidelines for effective conversation). The contribution of this approach was tested in a simulator that employed both a graphical and a conversational user interface, which were rated on likability, perceived intelligence, trust, and anthropomorphism. Results show that the conversational interface was trusted, liked, and anthropomorphized more, and was perceived as more intelligent, than the graphical user interface. Additionally, an interface that was portrayed as more confident in making decisions scored higher on all four constructs than one that was portrayed as having low confidence. These results together indicate that equipping autonomous vehicles with interfaces that mimic human behavior may help increasing people’s trust in, and, consequently, their acceptance of them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Virtual Agents)
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Open AccessArticle Perceptions on Authenticity in Chat Bots
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2018, 2(3), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2030060
Received: 19 June 2018 / Revised: 6 September 2018 / Accepted: 12 September 2018 / Published: 17 September 2018
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Abstract
In 1950, Alan Turing proposed his concept of universal machines, emphasizing their abilities to learn, think, and behave in a human-like manner. Today, the existence of intelligent agents imitating human characteristics is more relevant than ever. They have expanded to numerous aspects of [...] Read more.
In 1950, Alan Turing proposed his concept of universal machines, emphasizing their abilities to learn, think, and behave in a human-like manner. Today, the existence of intelligent agents imitating human characteristics is more relevant than ever. They have expanded to numerous aspects of daily life. Yet, while they are often seen as work simplifiers, their interactions usually lack social competence. In particular, they miss what one may call authenticity. In the study presented in this paper, we explore how characteristics of social intelligence may enhance future agent implementations. Interviews and an open question survey with experts from different fields have led to a shared understanding of what it would take to make intelligent virtual agents, in particular messaging agents (i.e., chat bots), more authentic. Results suggest that showcasing a transparent purpose, learning from experience, anthropomorphizing, human-like conversational behavior, and coherence, are guiding characteristics for agent authenticity and should consequently allow for and support a better coexistence of artificial intelligence technology with its respective users. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Virtual Agents)
Open AccessArticle The Impact of Multimodal Communication on a Shared Mental Model, Trust, and Commitment in Human–Intelligent Virtual Agent Teams
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2018, 2(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2030048
Received: 19 June 2018 / Revised: 26 July 2018 / Accepted: 15 August 2018 / Published: 18 August 2018
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Abstract
There is an increasing interest in the use of intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) to work in teams with humans. To achieve successful outcomes for these heterogeneous teams, many of the aspects found in successful human teams will need to be supported. These aspects [...] Read more.
There is an increasing interest in the use of intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) to work in teams with humans. To achieve successful outcomes for these heterogeneous teams, many of the aspects found in successful human teams will need to be supported. These aspects include behavioural (i.e., multimodal communication), cognitive (i.e., a shared mental model (SMM)), and social (trust and commitment). Novelly, this paper aims to investigate the impact of IVA’s multimodal communication on the development of a SMM between humans and IVAs. Moreover, this paper aims to explore the impact of the developed SMM on a human’s trust in an IVA’s decisions and a human’s commitment to honour his/her promises to an IVA. The results from two studies involving a collaborative activity showed a significant positive correlation between team multimodal communication (i.e., behavioural aspect) and a SMM between teammates (i.e., cognitive aspect). Moreover, the result showed that there is a significant positive correlation between the developed SMM and a human’s trust in the IVA’s decision and the human’s commitment to honour his/her promises (the establishment of the social aspect of teamwork). Additionally, the results showed a cumulative effect of all of these aspects on human–agent team performance. These results can guide the design of human–agent teamwork multimodal communication models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Virtual Agents)
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