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A platform for computer expression of emotion

Jonathan Klein

Bruzard was constructed as a visual and audio platform for machine expression of affect. Bruzard is a prototype of an interactive, animated 3D character designed to express affect, as well as model dynamics of human emotions such as emotional intensity, transitions from one state to another, and the decay of emotional states. Bruzard may be easily adapted to create, among other things, emotional awareness skill-building applications that may be used in education and psychotherapy, or a representation of a system's "affective response" to the user.

To combat the ill effects of traditional anthropomorphic interfaces, we took an approach to the design of the display that is meant to keep users' expectations of the system's capabilities in line with reality. To that end, Bruzard's display was designed to look like a characterization of a small, patient, non-native-speaking child. In this instance, since this prototype was built in the U.S., it is not hard to envision that the face belongs to a small, French-speaking child. Bruzard is meant to have the capabilities of a child who has a complete set of emotions, but who only has an occasional sense of what is going on, especially when things get complex. He is emotionally expressive but not verbally proficient; awake and rudimentarily aware but naïve and clumsy, in keeping with current computer abilities. It was felt that if the right humanoid character were displayed, users would find it endearing; they would expect some interesting functionality from it but not attribute sophisticated abilities to it; they would pay attention to it when it wanted to express something, but be forgiving when it made a mistake.

Finally, a number of traditional facial animation design techniques were employed to make Bruzard's facial expressions easier to read, such as enlarged eyes and eyebrows in relation to the head, as well as animation principles like telegraphing movement and mildly-caricatured expressions. These attributes also have the effect of making the character slightly cartoonish, slightly caricatured -- hopefully striking a delicate balance between realism and real-world believability on the one hand, and an endearing, imperfect, cartoon character on the other.In the future, we envision a number of applications for the Bruzard platform:


This page was last updated October 12, 1997.