When you’re an international business traveller, you need to be aware that the gestures and body language postures you use in your home country are not always appropriate or polite to use abroad.
Keep in mind these body language considerations the next time you travel internationally for business. This article discusses how body language is a part of natural language, personality, and NLP design. Most NLP systems today, be they Siri or Watson, amount to conducting chat via the thin pipe of a text interface.
So if we want people to engage emotionally with robots, or avatars (or any other kind of character that is rigged up to an NLP system), we need to consider using body language as part of that system. At Geppetto Labs we have begun considering Body Language Processing as a sub-set of Natural Language Processing. Generating body language requires coordination with the textual components of Natural Language Processing.
The key is to generate animations of undetermined duration that reflect the character’s mood for the response duration. Once all the variables are determined, they get packed together and our ACTR platform fires off a control file in XML that drives animations on the client side.
Fortunately, the foundation of body language design rests on a great mass of open source research called Psychology. Though this implementation is new, these concepts have been knocked about since the mid-1600s. But it seems overlooked in most robotics design circles and certainly in most labs that are working on NLP. Android and iOS Apps for jobseekers - Now you can take tips and tools with you on your phone with these free apps from Career Confidential.
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In some countries, including parts of Europe, you may come off as overpowering if your handshake is too firm. Research the culture you will be visiting, or sign-up for international business etiquette coaching so you can learn the dos and don’ts, and avoid common body language mistakes on your international business trips. She offers a wealth of practical advice and inspirational tips to move professionals toward an international mindset and an amazing corporate career. The article covers various methods for approaching this problem and makes recommendations for the real-time generation of animation to accompany natural language for avatars and robots. Siri doesn’t have a lot of choice on the matter since Apple had to simplify the complexity of communication, but this text interface reduced the communication itself. Each party can better understand the other because there is a higher throughput of communication. So just as Natural Language Processing has NLU (understanding) and NLG (generation), we can consider Body Language to have BLU and BLG.


The affect is harder to measure, but for this example let’s say that it ends up being a value of 5. If you have a twelve-second animation you might then have to chain together that two-second animation six times, or your one-second animation twelve times, to get the proper duration.  Does that make sense? I hope that at this point you’ve stopped and said, “Wait, no, that would be really dumb.
When you are combining the animation links to build a chain of proper duration, you need to avoid spasms and try to use the longest possible animation in your bucket. The next step is to play this animation and, as your character moves, watch it and ask yourself if that’s the kind of thing a person would do while saying that particular phrase. This keeps the performance hit on the server low, allows a nearly infinite range of movements for any connected system, and provides a robot (or avatar) with the ability to gesture as it speaks. In 1605 Francis Bacon, in The Advancement of Learning, looked at gestures as a frame around spoken communications. Some of the most talented natural language engineers are some of the least talented communicators.
Do you research before your business trip and learn the gestures and body language postures that you should and shouldn’t use in the country you’ll be visiting? Gauge and match the strength of your handshake with that of your international business partner.
If you’re doing business in Asia, using such direct eye contact could make you look aggressive. If you go to Latin America for business, an arm’s length may be too much space for the other person to feel they can connect with you. This includes prosody (tone, pitch and speed of words), facial expression, hand gesture, stance and posture.
If you think that Natural Language Processing is about only text, then step away from the computer, go to a cafe or bar, and watch people interact for a half an hour. This documentary looks at politicians, cops, athletes, and others, interviewing experts of body language to decodify everyone from Richard Nixon to Marion Jones. I’ll be focusing on the generation of it, but others, such as Skip Rizzo, Noldus Information Technology, and others are also looking at the understanding of body language and facial expressions. The wave of a hand that goes with the word “Hi” isn’t normally used in conversation as much as, say, nodding, or showing our palms when we speak. Gesture, expression, and tone of voice are all looked at as valuable and important data channels. Consider the fact that it’s the most intimate relationships (between lovers, primarily, but also between family members, close friends, and others) that involve the most touching. Most spoken conversation ranges from between 150 and 175 words per minute, but that can speed up or slow down depending on the emotion of the speaker, and other factors. These two bits of information, alone, are enough to calculate a rough animation, but first we need to build a small bucket of animations.


If you want a twelve second animation, then try using a ten-second link with two at the front, or one on each end. There is a terminal amputation that cuts the text of language from the language of the body.
These are also the relationships that rely the most on body language, because body language actually defines the proximal closeness and intimacy.
Words in WordNet-Affect are derived from Princeton’s fantastic WordNet project and have been flagged with particular meaning that indicate a range of values, most of which relate to what kind of psychosomatic reaction that word might cause or what kind of state it might indicate. So specific signifiers need to be manually wired up to particular output phrases from the system. That’s because important elements of natural language, like body language, are easily overlooked if we focus too much on the code and not enough on the people. Therefor Geppetto Labs has built a platform to automatically generate body language and coordinate it with what a robot (or avatar) is saying. A “word” is calculated in these kinds of standards as five UTF characters, which is also five bytes. We make them of various durations (1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds, etc.) so that if we want a three-second chain we can combine 1-second and 2-second duration animations, or, if we want to avoid replaying the same animation we can reverse the order of these links and combine the 2-second then the 1-second animations.
This is a hand-authored component that requires an author to flag specific lines that require specific gestures.
There’s a ton of really sticky material in this labyrinth of language called “affect,” and the ways that words link to one another make it all even stickier. And we make sure that we have these various animation links ready in separate buckets – one for each animation.
We are developing methods for automating this, but for now it is necessary to build a few specific gestures that are used in unique moments of conversation. Now if we back this out it means that around 12 bytes should leave the system per second, and this is then used to calculate the duration of a given animation. But for this explanation, let’s say that we can take a given word and that word will fall within a bucket of nine different emotions. So if we get a Duration=3 and Affect=5 we go into the bucket labeled Affect #5 and dig up the animation links that add up to three seconds.
If we then take the average affect of the text string in question (again, speaking very simply) we end up with a number that equals the emotion of that sentence.



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