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Public speaking in virtual reality: facing an audience of avatars

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2 Author(s)
Slater, M. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Univ. Coll. London ; Steed, A.

What happens when someone talks in public to an audience they know to be entirely computer generated-to an audience of avatars? If the virtual audience seems attentive, well-behaved, and interested, if they show positive facial expressions with complimentary actions such as clapping and nodding, does the speaker infer correspondingly positive evaluations of performance and show fewer signs of anxiety? On the other hand, if the audience seems hostile, disinterested, and visibly bored, if they have negative facial expressions and exhibit reactions such as head-shaking, loud yawning, turning away, falling asleep, and walking out, does the speaker infer correspondingly negative evaluations of performance and show more signs of anxiety? We set out to study this question during the summer of 1998. We designed a virtual public speaking scenario, followed by an experimental study. We wanted mainly to explore the effectiveness of virtual environments (VEs) in psychotherapy for social phobias. Rather than plunge straight in and design a virtual reality therapy tool, we first tackled the question of whether real people's emotional responses are appropriate to the behavior of the virtual people with whom they may interact. The project used DIVE (Distributive Interactive Virtual Environment) as the basis for constructing a working prototype of a virtual public speaking simulation. We constructed as a Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) model, a virtual seminar room that matched the actual seminar room in which subjects completed their various questionnaires and met with the experimenters

Published in:

Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 2 )