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Designing Effective Gaze Mechanisms for Virtual Agents

Embodied social agents, through their ability to afford embodied interaction using nonverbal human communicative cues, hold great promise in application areas such as education, training, rehabilitation, and collaborative work. Gaze cues are particularly important for achieving significant social and communicative goals. In this research, we explore how agents, both virtual and physical, might achieve these goals through various gaze mechanisms. We are developing control models of gaze behavior that treat gaze as the output of a system with a number of multimodal inputs.

By giving embodied agents the ability to draw on the full communicative power of gaze cues, this work will lead to human-agent interactions that are more engaging and rewarding. The primary outcome of this research will be a set of gaze models which can be dynamically combined to achieve any and all functions of gaze for a wide array of embodied characters and interaction modalities. These models will range from low-level computational models to high-level qualitative models. The primary hypothesis is that gaze cues generated by these models, which will be theoretically grounded in literature on human gaze, will evoke positive social and cognitive responses, and these results will generalize across agent representations and task contexts.


Pejsa, T., Andrist, S., Gleicher., M., and Mutlu, B. (2015). Gaze and Attention Management for Embodied Conversational Agents. ACM Transactions on Interactive and Intelligent Systems, 5(2), 3:1-3:34.

Andrist, S., Pejsa, T., Mutlu, B., and Gleicher, M. (2012). Designing Effective Gaze Mechanisms for Virtual Agents. In Proceedings of the 30th ACM/SigCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2012), 705-714.

Andrist, S., Pejsa, T., Mutlu, B., and Gleicher, M. (2012). A Head-Eye Coordination Model for Animating Gaze Shifts of Virtual Characters. In Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Eye Gaze in Intelligent Human-Machine Interaction held at the International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces, 4:1-4:6.

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