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Close encounters of the virtual kind: Agents simulating copresence

: Gerhard, M.; Moore, D.; Hobbs, D.


Applied artificial intelligence 19 (2005), No.3
ISSN: 0883-9514
ISSN: 1087-6545
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISST ()
collaborative virtual environment; embodied conversational agent

Results of a field study of an open-access collaborative virtual environment in actual use suggested that awareness of others significantly increases the level of presence experienced by participants. Given the importance of copresence, this paper argues that, in the absence of other human collaborators in a collaborative virtual environment, copresence can potentially be simulated using agent technology. A controlled experiment deploying a prototype embodied conversational agent was conducted to investigate the potential of such agents to simulate copresence. This paper briefly introduces the concepts of presence and copresence, summarises experiences drawn from the field study, reports on the controlled experiment and discusses its results. Results suggest that even limited copresence as provided by the current prototype agent is sufficient to help users feel presence in the environment.