Since November 2013, I’ve had the opportunity to actively participate in the new EU-funded FP7 R & D project, METALOGUE, through my company DialogCONNECTION Ltd, which is one of the 10 Consortium Partners. The project aims to develop a natural, flexible, and interactive Multi-perspective and Multi-modal Dialogue system with metacognitive abilities, i.e. a system that can monitor, reason about, and provide feedback on its own behaviour, intentions and strategies, as well as the dialogue itself, guess those of its interlocutor, and accordingly plan the next step in the dialogue. The goal is to dynamically adapt both its strategy and its behaviour (speech and non-verbal aspects) in order to influence the interlocutor’s reaction, and hence the progress of the dialogue over time, and thereby also achieve its own goals in the most advantageous way for both sides. The project runs for 3 years (until Oct 2016) and has a budget of € 3,749,000 (EU contribution: € 2,971,000). METALOGUE brings together 10 Academic and Industry partners from 5 EU countries (Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Ireland, and UK).
The METALOGUE research focuses on interactive and adaptive coaching situations where negotiation skills play a key role in the decision-making processes. Reusable and customisable software components and algorithms will be developed, tested and integrated into a prototype platform, which will provide learners with a rich and interactive environment that will help them develop metacognitive skills, support motivation, and stimulate creativity and responsibility in the decision-making, argumentation, and negotiation process. The project will produce virtual trainers capable of engaging in natural interaction in English, German, and Greek, using gestures, facial expressions, and body language.
Pilot systems will be developed for 2 different Sectors: Government and Industry. The corresponding user scenaria that have been selected are: a) Youth Parliamentarian Debating Skill Tutoring (for the Hellenic Youth Parliament) and b) Call Centre Agent Training (for multilingual UK Call Centres). Particularly for Call Centres, we have identified the following broad CC Agent training goals:
These training goals translate into the following metacognitive skills that a Call Centre Agent needs to learn and which will be taught through the METALOGUE system:
To this effect, DialogCONNECTION Ltd and myself are looking for UK-based Call Centres, preferably with multilingual agents, that would like to participate in the course of the project.
What we need from you
Ideally, we would get access to real-world Call Centre Agent-Caller/Customer recordings. However, simulated Trainer – Trainee phone calls that are used for situational Agent training are also acceptable (either already available or collected specifically for the project). 2 hours of audio (and video if available) would suffice for the 1st year of the project (needed by October 2014). By the 2nd year (Dec 2015) we would need a total of 15 hours of audio. The audio will be used to train the METALOGUE speech recognisers and the associated acoustic and language models, as well as its metacognitive models. We are looking for Call Centres that are either small and agile (serving multiple small clients) or large (and probably plagued by the well-known agent burn-out syndrome). Strict EU Guidelines for data protection will be applied on all the collected and all the published data (e.g. caller anonymisation, sensitive data redaction) and ultimately YOU determine what can and what cannot be published both during and after the project has ended.
What’s in it for you
- Participation, input in, early access & evaluation of all intermediate pilots as they are developed (No need to wait until the end of the project like the rest of the world!)
- Provide feedback, express wishes with regards to your own requirements for features and functionality (i.e. the pilots and the end system will be customised to your own needs!)
- Full METALOGUE system at the end for free, customised to your needs and requirements (no source code, or speech recogniser, just the system as-is)
If I have sparked your interest, please get in touch by leaving a comment to this post or contact us through our company website. Here is a handy PDF with the invitation to Call Centres (METALOGUE Poster).