BU Intel-PA PhDs

Centre for Digital Entertainment – Intelligent Virtual Personal Assistant (Intel-PA) Project

During 2020 Bournemouth University (BU) held a competition to initiate a research theme-based Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). The competition was won by Professor Jian Zhang Co-Director of the CDE, with the research theme of the Intelligent Virtual Personal Assistant (Intel-PA), an AI-powered conversational animated avatar. The Intel PA research theme builds on the research strengths of BU’s National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) namely: Animation, Simulation and Visualisation by investigating a new topic known as Conversational Artificial Intelligence (Conversational AI). The INTEL-PA project aims to significantly elevate the believability and usefulness of existing Virtual Humans. The INTEL PA DTC is founded on the academic excellence and operational experience of the Centre for Digital Entertainment (CDE) – a multi-million-pound EPSRC-funded doctoral training centre operated by FMC for over 10 years, in equal partnership with the University of Bath. Six match-funded PhDs will form two BU CDE cohorts 20/21 and 21/22, tackling the fundamental research issues and applications of the Intelligent Virtual Personal Assistant.

The six-match funded PhDs -4-year doctoral programme is a BU financial investment of £544k over the period 2021 to 2025. Having two cohorts of three PhD students working on the same research theme, creates a supportive environment between the students, the supervising academics and the BU CDE team. The second cohort builds on the research findings of the first cohort. Taking advantage of the CDE experience, the Intel-PA PhD students have an opportunity to gain industrial experience, through placement with industrial partners for up to 6 months arranged by the BU CDE project manager. Students will also participate in CDE student cohort building and skills training to make them all-round independent researchers, benefiting from the CDE practice. The Intelligent Virtual Personal Assistant consists of three landmark components that enables the Intel-PA to perform human-like communications with real humans. These are: sensible conversations; appropriate body gestures and facial expressions; and ability to detect the motion and emotions of the human user. By performing such human-like functions, Intel-PA will be able to benefit mankind in countless applications, such as healthcare, training, education, marketing and manufacturing decision-making, to name but a few.

Meet the current Intel-PA PhD cohort below:- 

Abdul Rehman
Eshani Fernando
Ruibin Wang
Jiajun Huang
Huan Xu
Kavisha Jayathunge
Xiaoxiao Liu

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