SuperAvatar: Children and mobile tourist guides become friends using superpowered avatars

Abstract: When tourists are wandering around in a town or city they do not know, it is normal to use a guide to make up their mind on what is more interesting in the surrounding. If the guide is an interactive one on a mobile device, they can also consult multimedia material and listen to audio descriptions. But what if the user is a children that is much more prone to get distracted? In this paper, we propose the presentation of touristic and cultural information to children through an augmented-reality approach. In order to keep focused the attention of the young users we make use of a virtual tourist guide, appearing as a comic book superhero. To get a realistic representation of the avatar we exploit a technique for fast simulating talking heads, which is portable on mobile devices. The technique is based on preloading a set of meshes representing different phonemes and switching among them in order to simulate animation, without the need of computing the update for an entire face model. In addition, we report on a first Android prototype, which shows the effectiveness of the approach for increasing children’s learning.

Authors: F. Sorrentino, L. D. Spano, R. Scateni.
SuperAvatar: Children and mobile tourist guides become friends using superpowered avatars.
Motivating students with Mobiles (MsM’2015), part of IMCL2015, 222-226.
Salonicco, Grecia, Novembre 2015.

Talking heads on mobile devices

Abstract: The number and quality of smartphones on the market has dramatically raised lately. Researchers and developers are, thus, more and more pushed to bring algorithms and techniques from desktop environments to mobile platforms. One of the biggest constraints in mobile applications is the fine control of computing power and the relative power consumption. Although smartphones’ manufactures are offering better computing performance and longer battery life, the mobile architecture is not always powerful enough. Furthermore, nowadays, the touchless interaction (e.g., the usage of voice commands) on mobile devices is particularly attractive. The device can also possibly answer to our questions (e.g., Siri-Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface, which according to Apple is “the intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking”). The use of talking avatars can improve the quality of the interaction and make it more useful and pleasant. Since avatars are static models, but the interaction requires dynamics, it is almost obliged to introduce avatars’ animations.

Authors: F. Sorrentino, R. Scateni.
Talking heads on mobile devices.
FAA ACM Symposium on Facial Analysis and Animation.
Vienna, Austria, Settembre 2012.

3D-ize U! A Real-time 3D Head-model Texture Generator for Android.

Abstract: Recently, the number of applications developed for smartphones has dramatically increased; however, at the moment, applications having the purpose of creating and displaying 3D models are quite rare. The goal of this work is to build an application that allows the user to see the virtual three-dimensional representations of their friends and interact with them. The main challenge is to achieve results similar to those that a computer would produce, optimizing the process to deal with the constraints due to the technology used. Since there are no similar mobile applications, this work will make possible to create a base onto which will be possible to realize applications that have customized 3D models as a common feature.

Authors: S. Boi, F. Sorrentino, S. Marras, R. Scateni.
3D-ize U! A Real-time 3D Head-model Texture Generator for Android.
EuroGraphics Italian Chapter 2011, 41-46.
Salerno, Italia, Novembre 2011.