CHIC Project

This research project was concerned with phonetic convergence in human-computer interaction. It was funded by the DFG (2015-2022) and led by Bernd Möbius (Saarland University) and Ingmar Steiner (Fraunhofer IAIS). The CHIC team further consisted of research associates Eran Raveh (Saarland University) and Iona Gessinger (Saarland University).

Phonetic convergence denotes an increase in similarity of the speech patterns of two interlocutors in communicative interaction. This phenomenon has been found and studied thoroughly in human-human interaction. There is now an increased interest to explore phonetic convergence in human-computer interaction (HCI) as well, since spoken dialogue systems are becoming more and more integrated in our everyday life.

In the first year of funding, we have demonstrated that human experimental subjects show patterns of phonetic convergence when being exposed to synthetic voices in a shadowing experiment (see figure below) that are similar to the convergence patterns observed in human-human interaction.


In the second funding phase, we extended the experimental approach to a Wizard-of-Oz scenario and found that human interlocutors of our simulated spoken dialog system Mirabella adapted their question intonation and segmental pronunciation to her (see video below).

The project also aims to develop a quantitative model of phonetic convergence in spoken HCI, build synthetic voices that are capable of adapting their speech output to the user’s speech patterns, and derive implications for the design of conversational interfaces in speech technology.

Find publications of the CHIC project here.

Past collaborators (including student assistants) of the CHIC project are (in alphabetical order):