Empirical Evaluation of Animated Agents in a Multi-Modal E-Retail Application

Helen McBreen and Mervyn Jack

This paper presents the results of an empirical evaluation of the effectiveness and user acceptability of a selection of animated agents in a multi-modal electronic retail application. Male and female versions of six animated agent technologies were repeatedly evaluated in the role of an interactive conversational sales assistant. The experiment involved participants eavesdropping on spoken dialogues between a 'customer' and each of the animated assistants. Participants then completed usability questionnaires and took part in a debriefing interview designed to elicit information relating to the agents’ voice, aspects of personality, appearance, facial expressions and gestures.

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