Professors Shrikanth Narayanan of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and Sharon Marie Carnicke of the USC School of Theatre are collaborating to better understand how people communicate, beyond the words they use.
Carnicke works with improvisational actors who enact interactions in which each is expressing emotion and motivation in with gestures, voice, movement and more.
Narayanan's research group captures the interaction and then uses sophisticated analytic tools to combine different expressions by different actors to find common threads. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation for efforts using motion capture, a process which involves spechial reflector-studded black costumes worn by actors.
The goal is to improve human-machine communication by enabling computers to understand non-verbal expression — and also to better understand the mechanics and structure of such expression.