Articles by Mireia Farrús

  • KRISTINA goes to the Opera

    July 29, 2017, by Mireia Farrús

    The time of the castrati in the opera, those classical male singing voices equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto by means of castration is far away. No one could imagine such a technique being carried out nowadays. Luckily enough, it was made illegal in the 19th century, coinciding with the end of the Baroque period and the incorporation of women in the opera.

    At this point, you might be wondering what the relationship between Baroque and KRISTINA is. So well, technologies have evolved so greatly, that we are now able to convert a male voice into a ...

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  • KRISTINA is getting deeply emotional

    Sept. 27, 2016, by Mireia Farrús

    With the first prototype of KRISTINA is nearing its completion, it seems like an appropriate time to talk about the technical side of the project. As the project’s description states it is “KRISTINA’s overall objective [..] to develop a human-like socially competent and communicative agent that […] run[s] on mobile communication devices”. To create an agent with human-like communication skills we need to analyze the users input not only with respect to the semantics of his conversational contributions but also to his overall affective state in order to react accordingly. This goal is equally challenging from a scientific point ...

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  • Seeing the Sounds

    July 28, 2016, by Mireia Farrús

    The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon accidentally discovered by Harry McGurk and John MacDonald in 1976. MacDonald, who was McGurk’s research assistant at that time, was asked to dub a video differently from which was spoken to conduct a psychology perception experiment with infants. Surprisingly, what they listened when playing the video was not the spoken segment nor the one performed with the lips, but a third one. To give an illustrative example, when pronouncing the syllable ba dubbed onto the syllable ga, the researchers perceived da. Due to this audiovisual illusion, the McGurk effect is also known ...

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  • Searching for the Right Thing to Say

    June 29, 2016, by Mireia Farrús

    Communication is part of our everyday life. We talk to our friends, our colleagues, our hairdresser, and even strangers about a number of topics and for a number of reasons. And in each conversation we have to decide how we want to contribute. This can result in numerous questions that we ask ourselves during a conversation: What do I say? How do I say it? When do I say it? Is it appropriate? Is it interesting? Is it...?
    While some of us always seem to know the right thing to say, there are also those who are constantly at a ...

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  • Migration and Health Care of Turkish Immigrants in Germany

    May 4, 2016, by Mireia Farrús

        (Rudolpho Duba, pixelio)

    Germany has come a long way in the last 60 years, achieved technical prowess in many different fields. There is one key factor for the economic boom starting from the late 50s onward which needs to be kept in mind: the arrival of guest workers and their contribution to the economic growth of the land. Cheap, useful and, at first glance unproblematic, the ‘guest’ work force turned out to be one of the key components of continuous economic growth, which in turn lead to the immigration of more guest workers. Most came from south Europe and later ...

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  • What is a Named Entity?

    March 30, 2016, by Mireia Farrús

                               Good morning Mr. Bacon! Or is it… Mr. bacon?


    Fancy name, n'est-ce pas? “Named entity” is the term used in the domain of computer science to describe proper names of all types. Proper names, also known as proper nouns, are different to normal words, which are nominal, in that they only have one specific referent that corresponds to each one of them. It is one thing to talk about a car and another to talk about a Ferrari (some people may argue that Ferraris are not just cars but that is another matter altogether)! The same applies to ...

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  • Animated Actors in the KRISTINA Project

    Feb. 22, 2016, by Mireia Farrús

    In a recent post, semFYC (Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine), introduced the KRISTINA European project, aimed at improving health care delivered to immigrant patients, through a system which provides multilingual conversations between patients and health professionals, to overcome cultural and communication barriers.

    For these conversations, KRISTINA provides animated actors, so that the conversation flows through them. In research, animated actors which have conversations are called embodied conversational agents (ECAs). The research group GTI from Universitat Pompeu Fabra provides  these animated actors for the project.  The use of these ECAs has become a hot research topic in recent years ...

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multilingual intelligent embodied agent social competence adaptive dialogue expressive speech recognition and synthesis discourse generation vocal facial and gestural social and emotional cues