Virtual Assistant Learns Social Skills

KogniHome benefits from an earlier joint project by CITEC and Bethel: “Virtual Assistants and their Social Acceptability” (VASA).

This project, which was also funded by the BMBF, developed a virtual assistant called “Billie” from 2012.  The avatar appears on a screen and assists in planning appointments and helping to structure everyday life. The user tells Billie which activities and appointments need to be planned. Billie then records them in a calendar, and reminds the user of upcoming dates. 

In VASA, the scientists investigated the kinds of etiquette, gestures and facial expressions required so that Billie can make itself understood by senior citizens and persons with disabilities. The VASA subproject “Verstanden” (Understood) was concerned with the question of ensuring optimum understanding between avatar and user. How can the avatar manage to understand the user’s questions and requests correctly, and make itself understood to the user?