Newswise — Ivan Gris, Ph.D. develops full-body embodied conversational agents and immersive environments at UTEP's Interactive Systems Group, as part of the Advanced Agent Engagement Team. He is also a co-founder of Inmerssion, where he works on creating automated virtual characters and virtual reality applications. He likes to explore novel human-computer interaction techniques to deliver digital content through believable characters and engaging storytelling scenarios.

Research:One of the major goals in research on embodied conversational agents (ECAs) is to increase the believability and perceived trustworthiness of agents. To improve the efficacy of the interaction between humans and ECAs, I focus on the development of rapport, which is a complex and extensive behavioral state of affinity, synchronicity, coordination and mutual understanding that is difficult to model, measure and interpret. Moreover, the benefits of rapport often fall outside of conscious awareness. He examines how physical engagement can help establish a stronger sense of emotional connection between humans and virtual characters. He is also one of the key developers of our AGENT Framework and our ECA, Adriana, which is capable of speech recognition and gesture recognition over long periods of time. This system provides up to 60 minutes of human-ECA interaction in a jungle-survival scenario.

Research areas:Virtual rapport, embodied conversational agents, human-computer interaction

Dr. Gris is available for interviews in English and Spanish.