earliest speaking machines were perceived as the heretical works of magicians
and thus as attempts to defy god. In the thirteenth century the philosopher
Albertus Magnus is said to have created a head that could talk, only to
see if destroyed by St. Thomas Aquinas, a former student of his, as an
abomination. The English scientist-monk Roger Bacon seems to have produced
one as well. That fakes were appearing in Europe in the late sixteenth
seventeenth centuries is shown by Miguel de Cervantes's description of
a head that spoke to Don Quixote -- with the help of a tube that led to
the floor below. Like Magnus, this fictitious inventor also feared the
judgement of religious authorities, though in his case he took it upon
himslef to destroy the heresy. By the eighteenth century science had started
to shed its connection to magic, and the problem of artificial speech
was taken up by inventors of a more mechanical bent."
David Lindsay, "Talking Head", Invention & Technology,
Summer 1997, 57-63.
and Narrative Language Group, MIT
GNL studies how artifacts such as agents and toys can be designed with
psychosocial competencies, based on a deep understanding of human linguistic,
cognitive, and social abilities.
"BodyChat is a prototype of a graphical chat system that allows users
to communicate via text while their avatars automatically animate attention,
salutations, turn taking, back-channel feedback and facial expression,
as well as simple body functions such as blinking of the eyes."
"...the newest generation of Embodied Conversational Agent -- "Rea"
-- a life-size animated humanoid figure on a screen that can understand
the conversational behaviors of the human standing in front of it (using
computer vision techniques), and respond with appropriate speech, animated
hand gestures, body movements, and facial expressions of its own. The
architecture for this new "conversationally intelligent" agent
is based on an analysis of conversational functions, allowing the system
to exploit users' natural speech, gesture and head movement in the input
to organize conversation, and to respond with automatically generated
verbal and nonverbal behaviors of its own."
research version of Rea runs on a collection of five SGIs and PCs. "
MIRALab is a creative interdisciplinary research group, at the University
of Geneva, specialising in virtual human simualtion and virtual worlds
PHD student within the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh,
undertaking research "concerned with the problem of Capturing Human