Distributed Mentor Project 2004

Chelsea Robertson

Project Description

After discussing some of the possible projects I could work on, I chose the following. This is the first draft of my project proposal. I will continue to add to this to develop my final paper. To see the updated version, click here.

1. Statement of the Problem

NUMACK is an embodied conversational agent, a virtual human who is capable of interacting and communicating with people. He is a robot designed to give directions around the Evanston campus of Northwestern University using speech and gestures. In order to successfully give directions, NUMACK should also incorporate a graphical representation of the campus. This map will draw and animate the route while NUMACK is explaining it, allowing his directions to be clearer.

2. Previous Research

Based on the paper “Pictorial and Verbal Tools for Conveying Routes” by Barbara Tversky and Paul Lee, we know that when given a tool kit of objects to draw a map, people like to include landmarks along the way. This use of landmarks shows they are just as important when explaining a route as the roads and turns on the route.

The previous version of MACK used a projector to display a simple path on a paper map. This new map would illustrate the route in real time and incorporate the important landmarks. Thus, the representation of the route would be more visual and interactive, leading to a vast improvement on the previous version of NUMACK.

3. My Approach

I plan to use Open Inventor to create a graphical representation of the Northwestern campus. After learning how to use Open Inventor, Amanda and I will look at some of the video data to determine a few routes, including landmarks. We will use this as a starting point for both of our projects.

I will then begin by creating a simple map using these routes and landmarks. Once the map is finished, I will focus on taking one of these routes as input and drawing it on the map. This route will be determined from Amanda’s work, so we will need to discuss the format of this input/output. The drawn route will consist of animations such as highlighting, drawing arrows, and circling important landmarks along the route while NUMACK is talking about them.

As we are implementing our separate projects, Amanda and I will also be thinking about how people choose which landmarks to mention as they describe a route. Since we need to decide on landmarks for the rest of campus, the information we gathered from the video data will be helpful.

Once the map is working for a small set of routes, the final step will be to expand the map to include these landmarks across the remainder of the campus.

4. End Goal

I believe this project will be complete when I have a good representation of campus that is helpful in expressing the correct route from point A to point B. An important part of this project is determining what is significant and should be included in the map when drawing a route from a given set of directions. Also, the animations pointing out the route and landmarks is a key part of the map. These two points will be good measures of a successful project.