22 September 2010

Virtual Human Unconsciousness

Virtual characters can behave according to actions carried out unconsciously by humans. Researchers at the University of Barcelona have created a system which measures human physiological parameters, such as respiration or heart rate, and introduces them into computer designed characters in real time. The system uses sensors and wireless devices to measure three physiological parameters in real time: heart rate, respiration, and the galvanic (electric) skin response. Immediately, the data is processed with a software programme that is used to control the behaviour of a virtual character who is sitting in a waiting room.

The heart rate is reflected in the movement of the character's feet; respiration in the rising of their chest (exaggerated movements so that it can be noticed); and the galvanic skin response in the more or less reddish colour of the face. The researchers conducted an experiment to see if the people whose physiological parameters were recorded had any preference as regards the virtual actor who was to use them, without them knowing in advance. But the result was negative, probably because other factors also influence the choice such as the character's appearance or their situation in the scene. The team is now studying how to solve this problem.

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