Evaluation of the EASIER Signing Avatar Completed

ATHENA’s Institute for Language and Speech Processing (ILSP) has completed the final evaluation of the EASIER signing avatar.

The EASIER avatar, specially designed and developed to perform synthetic signing, aims at producing accurate and easy to comprehend signing. It does so by integrating augmented information, such as affective expressions (e.g., emotions) and coherent prosody. The goal is to provide superior visualization of sign languages through an advanced synthetic signing technology, which incorporates linguistic knowledge to dynamically create new signing content.

To this end, ATHENA’s ILSP, as the leader of Work Package 2 Avatar Display, has enhanced manual avatar performance and implemented a generalized, robust method of fingerspelling that works with any one-handed manual alphabet. Fingerspelling is a small, but essential part of signed languages and will serve transferring proper name information entailed in the source translation content, and as the ultimate fallback if there is no other information available when displaying a gloss. Another step was to develop better mouth postures and mouth animations, which are essential in visualizing mouth gestures, useful for any signed language involving mouthing.

The evaluation process entailed a specially designed online questionnaire accessible to sign language communities and reconfigurable to accommodate multiple languages. The team developed the first evaluation system that facilitates A/B (head-to-head) testing of avatar technology making it possible to measure improvements compared to a baseline technology. The second, and final, evaluation phase was completed in September 2023 and was tested across four sign languages: Greek, German, French, and Swiss-German.

Evaluation of the EASIER signing avatar
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