Empathic training companions for the application process
Job interviews are often a big challenge. Presenting yourself successfully, correctly, interested and motivated in interviewing applicants, and presenting yourself in a binding and authentic manner, is an unfamiliar situation for young applicants in particular, which previously could only be inadequately trained. Virtual empathic training systems can create additional opportunities to practice job application situations and to better assess one’s own behavior.
In the EmpaT project, a real-time analysis of social signals is coupled with an emotional real-time user model for the first time in order to adapt the behavior of an interactive avatar to the socio-emotional situation of a user. This mechanism allows the application dialogue to be designed sensitively. Such dialogue systems can become personal assistance systems in different situations. One of the challenges is the realistic design of the emotional feedback by the avatar.
A project consortium of computer scientists, psychologists and 3D graphics experts is investigating and realizing the interpretation of social and emotional signals, which are necessary for empathy and adaptation to the respective user and his or her social situation. Highly developed hardware sensors are used. These capture social communication signals such as gaze, eyes, hand and body movements. The real-time processing of the information thus obtained is used for adaptive-reactive control of the EmpaT training avatar. This approach allows a coordinated communication between user and avatar. In this way, different emotional-social interaction patterns can be simulated. The results of the interpretation of social and emotional signals are also used to calculate possible emotional states of a user. Real-time emotion simulation and adaptive behavioral models are used for this purpose, integrating the latest findings from psychology, cognitive sciences and artificial intelligence.
The project is accompanied by an advisory board, which assists the project in ethical, social and legal questions. The Ethics Advisory Board is made up of experts from the fields of coaching, youth work, law and education. Continuous acceptance and evaluation studies are conducted to investigate the effect of personal interaction with a virtual avatar in a realistic simulation environment. The panel also examines possible long-term social impacts of virtual empathic training systems.
EmpaT is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the research program “Social and emotionally sensitive systems for optimized human-technology interaction – from technical tools to interactive companions (InterEmotio)”. The project promoter is VDIVDE-IT GmbH.


Contact Person: Dr. Patrick Gebhard

Project Management: Dr. Patrick Gebhard



Participating Research Departments

  • Intelligent User Interfaces