( ARCHIVED 2013 )

SPEECH-INTERACTIVE AVATARS and USER INTERFACE DESIGN for clients

click for enlargement in separate window

What we do:

We create humanoid CG avatars with speech capabilities for real-time speech interaction with humans with computers, kiosks, mobile, in 2D or 3D, and according to client's photorealistic or stylized preferences.

Speech interaction with avatar guides, friends, teachers, or playmates is already here and cross-platform applications are being developed for kiosk and mobile, home and away.

We are available for consultation, design or production on speech-interactive user interfaces and 3D avatars for demo, display or product development. We have designed 3D avatars for speech-interactive 3D scenarios for corporate and art clients, as proof-of-concept demo or as works of media art.

Artificial intelligence and the 'look':

How 'smart' and engaging your avatar depends on you, the client. Low budget solutions produce lower intelligence, and vice versa. The look, the scene and the script is at your discretion and dependent on our capabilities. We enter into a contract with you which is described in stages / milestones. If you want a 'turnkey solution' and prefer to leave design and implementation of general content up to us, then we can do that too.

Web and 3D culture has moved to more interactive and communicative forms:

Typing to communicate and reading text (as you are now) is certainly 'old school' and certainly not as pleasant or efficient as talking between ourselves. Natural language speech interaction with humanoid figures ('avatars` of all kinds of shape, race, gender, age and appearance) is a `natural` in the interactive web as well as computer communications for education, medicine, banking, arts, entertainment and gaming. Whether it be for home, kiosk, or mobile apps, interactive speech recognition avatars are here to stay, at least for those who would like something more than 'typing' or looking for a keyboard amidst all your other apps and touch screen items.

What is required:

Speech-recognition software, provided by client or using our previously licensed demo SR software, is required for all speech-interactive projects. Simple configurations of displays with microphone/speakers or head-sets are also required, as is normal for all speech software. The content is delivered in real-time and 'face to face' or however the human speaker determines.

Our design teams are constituted on a contract basis and tailored to the intended project. The Project Lead Al Razutis has years of production expertise which includes 3D animation, speech-interaction for demo and web, and award-winning creations in stereoscopic 3D, motion-pictures, and VR worlds.

Our workflow can range from custom-built avatar to pre-designed avatar solutions. We utilize a number of 3D character modeling and animation softwares in the creation of full body animated avatars, with facial and lip sync animation, as per client's scripted requirements.

We will taylor our output to conform with client's provided 'A.I' database and speech-engine requirements. From custom to pre-designed, from photo-realistic to 2D characters, the range is wide open to the client's creative interests.

Contact Al Razutis directly with your requirements.

Speech - Interaction Demos (speaker/avatar responses as per actual real-time interaction):

All video is .WMV (Win Media Player) - 1-4 mB download - links open separate windows - enable 'pop-up' functions to view demos:

 

Web-resolution demo samples speech animation:
'Sally' and 'Lisa' by Al Razutis 2009
based on previous work for Mission Corp. 1999-2001.

click for avatar Sally talk multiple video clips 1-2 mB  .WMV Windows Media video 'Sally' avatar video 1
('Is my flight on time?' 320x240)
'Sally' avatar video 2
('Portfolio...medical center' 320x240)
Higher Res. 720x480:
'Lisa' avatar video 3
('Welcome to Medical center' 720x480)
'Lisa' avatar video 3b ('Thank you for visiting' 720x480)

Web-resolution demo samples speech animation:
"Kora' for Sonora Technologies / Digislide Au.   2011 avatar by Al Razutis

click for avatar Kora talk video clip 1mB  .WMV Windows Media video

'Kora' avatar video 3
('Welcome to VSDN...')

VR Project Lead
Modeling/animation by Al Razutis.

Web-resolution demo samples speech animation:
"Sonora' for Sonora Technologies
& BC Secretariat - Commerce
2009-10

click for avatar Sonora  talk \ video clips < 1 mB  .WMV Windows Media video

'Sonora' avatar video 4 ('Hi, I'm Sonora...' 320x240)

'Sonora' avatar video 5 ('BC Stories...' 320x240)

VR/SR Project and Design Lead Al Razutis,
modeling & animation by Andrew Hogan.

Contact Al Razutis directly with your requirements or to discuss viewing full-demo versions of selected works (NDA required).



About speech-interaction for the web:

Speech-interaction graphical interfaces (you are talking, not typing or employing pointers) are inevitable for game and other applications like web browsing, chat, entertainment, security, remote control, medicine, e-learning.

Issuing voice commands is more 'human interactive' than punching hotkeys to generate actions. Conversing with a interactive avatar (CG humanoid) is more 'social' than typing (as in above, right). We like to chat, meet people, engage in 'relationships', real and virtual . Human interaction is typified by conversations with other humans, and speech-recognition (SR) makes web simulations with avatar-humanoids a two-way conversation. But not like the 'old school:

standard chat-dating promo
The old 2D web - chat room typing


 
enlarge - avatar chat from 'Them'

3D web gamers want to converse, not type / read
 
enlarge - avatars from Second Life

3D worlds and avatars in Second Life show promise, but where's the speech interaction?

We make 3D avatars that respond in natural language, gesture, expression and some other things that make conversations 'real' and engaging.

For the http web, a speech-enabled browser environment is required to support the speaking user interacting with web content. The major choices out there (in the marketplace) are dominated by 'speech to text' functionalities which focus on 'document' or navigation of content.

Our focus is on the creationg of speech-interactive 'worlds' populated by 'intelligent' avatars which are employed for the purposes of education, information gathering, commerce, entertainment and the arts, whichever is appropriate.


About avatars - face mapping - speech interaction:

Avatar Mall - building avatars from bottom up

The avatar can be 'realistic' or 'fanciful' but the graphic artist not the scientist gives it a personality and telling features (expressions, details, movement) that correspond to familiar 'cues' (eg. eye movements, mouth shapes) that are necessary for exciting human speech interaction.

Producing a humanoid form and animating this form in a designed architectural space is the first step to creating an interesting 'interactive environment'. Flat scrolling maps with 3D avatars moving about are on their way out.

Avatars we've done (a brief and incomplete selection):
avatars we've done - avatar line up 1999 to 2011


Where avatars come from:

The avatars referred to here are generated as 3D models (files) in computers and are displayed on monitor screens (or in 3D viewing environments). The CG content is accessed for viewing either on line or by local (drive) access. This can be done in 2D. 3D, 3DS, and/or 'holographically' (which is coming). The term 'avatar' refers to humanoid shapes that aquire a 'personality' through the use of anthropomorphic shapes and subjects (human body and face, clothing, settings, etc.). What that 'human' may be, of course, is up to you and the process it takes to get there.

CSELT talking head avatar in VRML by Al Razutis 1999
Whether the avatar is 'realistic' (with photo texture maps) or synthetic-modeled with an assortment of possibilities in skin, texture, face and body features is up to you. Both extremes have to be handled with care, and everywhere 'in between' is preferred.

The speech-interactive scenario is based on embedded speech to text (code) functions of the browser-enabled speech engine to activate specific avatar (humanoid) speech responses or linked web content (response). The avatar exists in a library (database) of available responses; the recognition of user input is based on a grammar - syntax determined by the Speech Engine, and an intelligent (A.I.) back-end that 'recognizes' the user in terms of a unique history of personal parameters and interests. In this capacity, the speech-recognition capabilities of the browser environment (if that is the desired delivery system) must be accurate and timely in both recognition and avatar response.
Facial recognition and Avatar Maya modeling for Mission Corp.  showing wire mesh

Avatar appearance can be modified to include viewer choices and inputs. The taking on of pre-determined 'characters' and 'character forms' is well known in virtual reality group sites. In our work, the avatar face can be a 'self-portrait', an 'alter-ego', a made up character, or whatever the client suggests, or is possible. The avatar can be photo-realistic or stylized characature, photo-based or CGI synthetic.

In market-driven projects which rely on popularity and return of investment, the 'generic' quickly becomes outdated. The market will discard a poorly performing (robotic, predictable, generic) avatar, however intricate or complex the software design. Many projects that did not incorporate effective (artistic) graphic design have gone into the marketplace trash bin. And that is one of the reasons 'it has taken so long'.

Today's focus on portable browsing devices, freedom from keyboard and mouse, make speech-interactive avatar development all the more relevant. It is rather astounding that major players such as Microsoft, and game publishers, have not refined and shipped functioning SR avatar packages along with their software. The opportunity is there for the individual entrepreneur or start-up to realize this vision and its future.


PRAXIS:

We work with clients to develop their product based on their own vision, budgets and needs that are scaled to long-term growth.

We are flexible in hours and scheduling. We can work with you from any location on the planet; all you require is a connection to the internet to review the results as the site work is conducted.

Our pricing is tailored to the project and duration. All sites are maintained for a specified time under the terms of contract.

For custom site work and modifications, rates can be adjusted to fit overall budget and requirements. Contact Al Razutis with your requirements (please provide relevant URL, if applicable) to receive a reply-quote by e-mail.