This paper reports on the design, development and evaluation of a framework which implements virtual humans for information provision. The framework can be used to create interactive multimedia information visualizations (e.g., images, text, audio, videos, 3D models) and provides a dynamic data modeling mechanism for storage and retrieval and implements communication through multimodal interaction techniques. The interaction may involve human-to-agent, agent-to-environment or agent-to-agent communication. The framework supports alternative roles for the virtual agents who may act as assistants for existing systems, standalone “applications” or even as integral parts of emerging smart environments. Finally, an evaluation study was conducted with the participation of 10 people to study the developed system in terms of usability and effectiveness, when it is employed as an assisting mechanism for another application. The evaluation results were highly positive and promising, confirming the system’s usability and encouraging further research in this area.
This paper introduces booTable, an interactive coffee table prototype constructed by recycled paper aiming to build upon the paradigm of surface computing, but endeavoring to overcome a number of identified limitations of current design practice. In this respect, the paper first runs through the design requirements, decisions and rationale towards creating a first version of the prototype. Then, the outcomes of the prototyping process are described, along with the results of an informal assessment session and related critique. Following that, the revisions made towards the development of a second version of the prototype are laid out and the final result is presented.