Models for Multiparty Engagement in Open-World Dialog

Dan Bohus and Eric Horvitz

SIGDIAL Workshop on Discourse and Dialogue (SIGDIAL 2009)
Queen Mary University of London, September 11-12, 2009


We present computational models that allow spoken dialog systems to handle multi-participant engagement in open, dynamic environments, where multiple people may enter and leave conversations, and interact with the system and with others in a natural manner. The models for managing the engagement process include components for (1) sensing the engagement state, actions and intentions of multiple agents in the scene, (2) making engagement decisions (i.e. whom to engage with, and when) and (3) rendering these decisions in a set of coordinated low-level behaviors in an embodied conversational agent. We review results from a study of interactions "in the wild" with a system that implements such a model.