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Embodied conversational agents are virtual characters that engage users in conversation with appropriate speech, gesture, and facial expression. The high cost of developing embodied conversational agents has led to a recent increase in open-source agent platforms. In this tutorial, we present a framework for the rapid creation and deployment of embodied conversational agents. The tutorial will introduce novices to the basic concepts involved in creating ECAs. The tutorial will further describe a content creation pipeline that allows users to use a mixture of low cost and free tools to create customized virtual humans, animate them using motion capture, and deploy them as intelligent interfaces via the XNA Framework. The material covered in the tutorial is suitable both as a starting point for the development of a more advanced system or as a teaching tool for AI curricula.
The tutorial requires no prerequisite knowledge for ECA creation. However, for integration with an intelligent interface, some familiarity with Visual Studio will be useful.