The ELIZA Effect, VR, and CUIs

“The ELIZA effect, in computer science, is the tendency to unconsciously assume computer behaviors are analogous to human behaviors.” – Wikipedia

An experiment designed to evoke the ELIZA effect with a combination of 3D animation and a conversational user interface (CUI)
A chatterbot with manners and body language – idoru.js at http://idoru.ca

The ELIZA effect is named after a “chatterbot” called ELIZA that was developed between 1964 and 1966 at MIT. A “chatterbot” is a computer program that conducts a conversation.

ELIZA’s creator, Joseph Weizenbaum, said it was a a “parody” of “the responses of a nondirectional psychotherapist in an initial psychiatric interview.” (Weizenbaum 1976, p. 188)

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3D Cameras vs. 360-degree Cameras

All the rage in the news this week has been the introduction of some high-end “360-degree” cameras for virtual reality. Are these 3D cameras?

A simple 3D camera.
A simple 3D camera.

The elephant in the room is that these “360-degree” cameras do not produce stereoscopic output. Stereoscopy is the bedrock of creating the illusion of three dimensions.

What is “stereoscopy”? From Wikipedia: “Stereoscopy is the production of the illusion of depth in a photograph, movie, or other two-dimensional image by the presentation of a slightly different image to each eye, which adds the first of these cues (stereopsis). The two images are then combined in the brain to give the perception of depth.

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A Virtual Reality Web – Elegant Descriptions and Pessimistic Outlook

Given that VR goggles have been available to consumers for DAYS, not even weeks, and given that the only people who have even heard of the Oculus Rift are gamers and sports fans, I think all the pessimism about a “virtual reality web” may be a little bit premature. Or so I’d like to think, anyway.

I saw this article today about a “virtual reality web” – and was amazed at both how forward-thinking, and pessimistic it was.

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3058591/why-a-virtual-reality-web-may-never-happen

The opening paragraph paints a pretty elaborate picture of something that’s, well, science fiction:

What if you could browse the web in virtual reality? Just imagine the potential. Hyperlinks could take you not to Wikipedia pages about history, but right to the landscapes of ancient cultures, immersing you in plagues and art and war. Recipe sites could give you smell-o-vision cooking simulations. Message boards could become face-to-face chats. The web as we know it could become tangible, interactive, and more immersive than ever.

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Happy April Fool’s from Blend4web??

Oh, man, I saw this in my Twitter feed this morning, from Blend4web Community, and the cognitive dissonance is rolling through my head like virtual thunder.

Unity Technologies Switches to Blend4Web for its WebGL-Based Solutions

April Fools Blend4web
The black and white “Spy vs. Spy” appeal of this graphic re-enforces my belief that this is some kind of (clever) April Fool’s joke. But, may as well blog about it before I find out for sure…

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Virtual Worlds vs Virtual Reality

What is the difference between a virtual world, and virtual reality?

A virtual world is a fake place you can visit. Virtual reality is an immersive way of experiencing virtual worlds.

The difference between virtual worlds vs virtual reality is kind of like the difference between a web page and colour monitors. A virtual world, like a web page, is a container of content. A VR headset, like a colour monitor, is a way of looking at content.

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Introducing Idoru.js

idoru.js is an experiment I’m working on with artificial characters in virtual worlds. The idea is that to provide good “user experience” (UX) in a virtual world, a character must have good “stage presence” to stimulate engagement.

The idea is to create a framework for an artificial character that is charming and attentive to the user. This character can then be “dressed up” with any imaginable avatar. It can be given any “job” that anyone cares to script.

A screenshot of the very first prototype of idoru.js - with a rudimentary avatar and chatbot.
First idoru.js experiment.

A good suit and deep knowledge are not enough to make a person engaging in the real world. A person needs body language. A person needs to be attentive to the person they are engaging. They need to make eye contact. They need to interact with a person’s personal space in a thoughtful, polite way.

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Immersive Media – the biggest media revolution since audio

Cave Paintings - early static mediaIn the beginning, there were cave paintings. And with that, mankind moved into an age where thoughts could be shared with others, in the absence of the original thinker. Mankind had invented static media.

Then, not long ago, mankind invented dynamic media. Audio. Movies. Video. Streaming media. Call it what you will, it differed from static media in that it had an element of time. One second worth of content takes one second. Most unlike static media, which is timeless. Continue reading “Immersive Media – the biggest media revolution since audio”

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The Dawn of Virtual Reality

The dawn of virtual reality.
The Dawn of Virtual Reality

Over the last couple of days, the very first “Oculus Rift” headsets have been arriving on the heads of ordinary consumers. And those who write about such things are going wild. This, they say, is the dawn of virtual reality. As far as a lot of people are concerned, this is the beginning of a whole new medium. And given what I’ve seen about the sweeping psychological implications of “immersive media”, it could be true.

For example, Matthias Mccoy-Thompson of The Medium makes the bold statement:

Today marks the biggest revolution in gaming since Pong took games from the realm of boards into the digital.Continue reading “The Dawn of Virtual Reality”

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