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Utterance generation for transaction dialogues

Joris Hulstijn and Arjan van Hessen

University of Twente

The Netherlands

{ joris | hessen }@cs.utwente.nl

 

1. Transaction Dialogues

Obligations

Transactions (ticket reservation, distant selling) involve obligations of both parties: the system should provide all relevant information; the user should feel committed to the transaction.

 

Theatre Information and Reservation

Our prototype, SCHISMA, is a mixed-initiative dialogue system for theatre information and ticket reservation. Based on user utterance, context and plan, the dialogue manger selects a response action. A response action is a combination of database manipulation and dialogue acts.

Information status

Utterance generation has a great impact on the usability of dialogue systems. Wording and intonation should reflect the status of information in the dialogue. As a rule, given information items are de-accented, expressed as a pronoun or left implicit. Salient or contrastive elements are accented. Verification prompts are distinguished by a rising intonation, to indicate insecurity.

Personality

We want a system with a personality, reflected in the nature of the prompts. We like to compare a  curt, efficient system with a polite, elaborate one.  A cheerful goodbye hopefully shows that the system cares about the transaction

Interaction in a Virtual World

Our system will be embedded as an agent called `Karin' in a virtual theatre environment. Users can walk around and preview the stage from different angles. Users can ask Karin about performances and about the theatre building. Virtual worlds invite browsing behaviour. The balance between text, speech, graphics and other interaction modalities in such `leisure' environments is a topic of further research.

full paper