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Cultural Agents
and Avatars
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expected to be completed in the first half of 2004. In the interests of improving commu-
nications with citizens further, the Scottish Executive has been investigating combining
the success of Seonaid with the emerging possibilities of colour mobile devices.The pilot
scheme has been conceived to test the efficacy, in terms of both technical feasibility and
popularity among citizens, of multimedia messaging of Scottish Executive communica-
tions.There may also be the possibility to incorporate a range of languages (including
sign language) into Seonaid's repertoire as the technology develops. In the words of the
Scottish Executive's Finance and Public Services Minister Andy Kerr, `Seonaid has the
potential to... open up Scotland to the rest of the world, and to Scots whose first lan-
guage is not English, at the touch of a button.'
120
The Peranakans Project
121
The Peranakans are descendents
of an early Chinese community
that settled in the Malay Archi-
pelago around the seventeenth
century.This unique community
developed distinct customs,
cuisine, and even their own
language, blending Chinese and
Malay ways of life to form a
rich new culture that enriched
Singaporean society.
122
The Peranakans project is
a digital heritage venture that
employs 3D modelling tech-
niques in order to integrate a virtual avatar tour guide with realistic Peranakan heritage
objects.The project's objective is to combine state-of-the-art virtual reality (VR) and
avatar techniques with the culture of the Peranakans in order to produce an application
that will inform users about the history and culture of the Peranakan people.With many
heritage and cultural sites being destroyed or lost to urbanisation, pollution, neglect, and
even tourism, the need to preserve, restore, and interpret cultural heritage sites in new
and innovative ways has increased tremendously over recent years.
The project, which began in late 2001, is likely to run for five years. It is the work of
the Centre for Advanced Media Technology (CAMTech
123
), a joint research and
development centre involving the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics
(IGD) of Darmstadt, Germany, and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU),
Singapore. CAMTech is a member of INI-GraphicsNet,
124
and the CAMTech project
team currently comprises two Directors, Dr Wolfgang Mueller-Wittig and Dr Tony K.Y.
Chan, and two Research Engineers, Meehae Song and Thomas Elias.The CAMTech
120 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/pages/news/2002/07/SENW058.aspx
121 This case study is based on an e-mail questionnaire completed by Meehae Song and Thomas Elias of the
Centre for Advanced Media Technology in November 2003, and on material available from the Web.
All sources are given in footnotes.
122 http://www.inigraphics.net/publications/topics/2002/issue5/5_02a06.pdf
123 http://www.camtech.ntu.edu.sg/index.html
124 http://www.inigraphics.net
CAMT
ech
Synchronising avatar lip movements with speech
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