Maryland Robotics Center Student Seminar: Generating Virtual Human Agents

Friday, October 22, 2021
2:00 p.m.
Lena Johnson
301 405 8870

Generating Virtual Human Agents with Emotive Body Expressions

Uttaran Bhattacharya
PhD Student, Computer Science
Advisor: Dr. Dinesh Manocha

Studies in psychology and affective computing indicate that non-verbal body expressions such as gaits and gestures provide valuable cues for perceiving the emotions of an individual. As a result, when developing AI and robotics systems to detect perceived emotions for a multitude of social and behavioral applications, it is crucial to consider the subjects' body expressions. However, a lack of large-scale datasets of videos or motion-captured data of body expressions annotated with perceived emotions presents a significant challenge to develop such systems. To overcome this challenge, we developed methods to generate virtual human agents with emotionally expressive gaits and gestures. Our methods leverage the well-known affective features to distinguish between different emotions from body expressions, as well as the spatial-temporal graph structure of the human body joints to learn efficient latent representations for the generation of realistic body expressions. We show state-of-the-art performance of our methods for generating virtual human agents with emotive body expressions. We also demonstrate, through multiple web-based user studies, that our generated virtual human agents appear realistic to human users, and the emotions perceived by the human users from the body expressions of our virtual human agents are strongly positively correlated with the emotions intended in our generation process.

About the Robotics Student Seminars
The Robotics Student Seminars at the University of Maryland College Park are a student-run series of talks given by current robotics students.

The purpose of these talks is to:

  • Encourage interaction between Robotics students from different subfields;
  • Provide an opportunity for Robotics students to be aware of and possibly get involved in the research their peers are conducting;
  • Provide an opportunity for Robotics students to receive feedback on their current research;
  • Provide speaking opportunities for Robotics students.

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