When people talk to each other,
the majority of the information
thats conveyed comes from the
way we say things, rather than
the words we are actually saying.
Eye-contact, smiles, voice-
modulation, speaking rate, pauses
and emphasis on certain words
often add an extra layer of
information in our interactions.
Many of us want to improve these
interaction skills, but don't
have the resources to do so.
Imagine if you could practice
your interaction skills with an
automated system in the privacy
of your own living room. A
program designed at the MIT Media
Lab lets you do just that.
"Hi I am Mary. I'm looking
forward to doing your interview."
My Automated Conversation Coach,
consists of a 3-D character on
a computer screen that can see,
hear, and make its own decisions
based on its interactions with
a person. And it works on a
"Now, lets get started."
Using a webcam, the system can
analyze facial expressions. For
example, it can measure where
in the interaction you are
smiling, and can recognize your
head gestures such as a nod or
shake. The system also analyzes
your voice. It not only understands
what you say, but how you say it.
Using real-time, speech-
recognition and prosody analysis
it can capture the non-verbal
nuances of conversations and
display it in an intuitive format.
When you're done it gives you a
summary of the information:
When you smiled, how fast you
spoke, and so on. And it can
show how these measures change
over multiple sessions. It even
allows you to watch the video of
your interactions with various
measures of your behavior
displayed alongside the video.
Such as when you smile, how the
volume of your voice rises and
falls, and what words you
emphasize. It even shows when
your attention wanders.
"I can't find you."
"There you are."
"You were saying?"
In a study with 90 MIT under-
graduates, the subjects went
through simulated job interviews
before and after receiving this
training. Those who got the
feedback from this automated
system, were rated as better
candidates for the job than those
who did not.
Besides job interviews, the
researchers say this system could
help with public speaking, dating
learning languages, or helping
people who have difficulties in