Published by: Kungl. Tekniska högskolan, ISSN:1783-7677,2012
We present an Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA) that incorporates a context-sensitive mechanism for handling user barge-in. The affective ECA engages the user in social conversation, and is fully implemented. We will use actual examples of system behaviour to illustrate. The ECA is designed to recognise and be empathetic to the emotional state of the user. It is able to detect, react quickly to, and then follow up with considered responses to different kinds of user interruptions.
The design of the rules which enable the ECA to respond intelligently to different types of interruptions was informed by manually analysed real data from human-human dialogue. The rules represent recoveries from interruptions as two-part structures: an address followed by a resumption. The system is robust enough to manage long, multi-utterance turns by both user and system, which creates good opportunities for the user to interrupt while the ECA is speaking.