Universität Bielefeld Technische Fakultät - AG Wissensbasierte Systeme

Movement Simulation in Virtual Humans: The Case for Imitation

Ipke Wachsmuth

Faculty of Technology
University of Bielefeld


The study of bodily communication has recently found increased attention through findings suggesting that the perception of body movements of a conspecific activates imitative motoric representations in the observer. It is assumed that these findings may also play an important part in human nonverbal communication. With the artificial humanoid agent MAX under development in our laboratory we have started to investigate imitative movement such as hand and arm gestures, using computer simulations in a virtual reality environment. Principles of human motor control are employed to animate the body of MAX, which is based on an anthropomorphic kinematic skeleton approximating roughly one-third of the degrees of freedom of the human body. Two cases will be discussed: (1) imitation of simple gestures involving reproduction of hand positions and finger configurations (gestural mimicking); (2) imitation of more complex gesture sequences related to the description of shape. Our research is led by the expectation that a simulative approach will contribute to further elucidating the role of the motor system in embodied communication, reaching into higher cognitive levels of operation.

Talks: Altenberg 29-09-2004, Osnabrück 30-09-2004, Tübingen 26-11-2004

Ipke Wachsmuth, last updated 2004-10-03