Evidence-based facial design of an interactive virtual advocate

Wendy Anne Powell, Tom Garner, Daniel Tonks, Thomas Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RITA (Responsive InTeractive Advocate) is the vision for a computer software-based advocacy and companion service to support older adults and provide an alternative to institutional care. The RITA service will offer a preventative care approach, creating a digital champion who will learn an individual’s needs and preferences over time, and be a friendly interface between users, family and professionals. This will involve the integration of a variety of technical components: (i) The Face, a realistic and emotionally expressive avatar, encouraging communication and interaction; (ii) The Mind, a repository to store, organise and interpret personal and memory-related information representing the ‘essence’ of a person, with user-defined access controls; and (3) The Heart, an empathetic sensory interface which is able to understand and respond to the physical, emotional and psychological needs of the user. Each of these aspects presents a series of technical challenges, which will be addressed by combining existing state-of-the art techniques from a variety of disciplines, together with innovative processes and algorithms, to improve and extend functionality. RITA is being designed in consultation with user groups and service providers, drawing extensively on existing research to inform the design and functionality of the system. We introduce here the design and development of the face of RITA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Alternative Medicine Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Avatar
  • Facial Animation
  • intelligent agent
  • virtual companion
  • elderly


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