Volume Masters R&D Studentship

Effective use of AI chatbot technology within VR (Prototype)

Considering applying for a masters with the University of Plymouth Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business this summer?

Are you keen to work collaboratively with a local business to apply your knowledge in a work context, contributing to the development of a new product, service or experiential offering, and enhancing your creative practice and future prospects?

About Volume:

Volume creates solutions predominantly for the technology sector, and lists Dell, Castrol, Oracle, Lloyds Register, Virgin Media Business, Poly, Intuit, Finastra, HSBC, AT&T, AWS, IBM, Intel, Zebra, OKI, PWC, Artesian and MicroFocus among its customers.

Volume focuses on four key areas:
  • AI-powered chatbots: empowering customers to access relevant information at the point of need, leveraging our AI-powered Big Brain Chatbot framework.
  • Immersive solutions: designing innovative solutions using immersive technologies in VR, MR and AR to help businesses simulate scenarios for training, risk mitigation or enhanced customer experience.
  • Learning and development: developing meaningful and effective learning solutions for our clients. Supporting clients to develop user-centric, best-in-class immersive learning experiences.
  • Digital strategy: working with our clients as a digital partner to identify innovative solutions to their challenges.

Project title:

Effective use of AI chatbot technology within VR (Prototype)

Project description:

The challenge is to create realistic AI character speech interactions in VR. In order to complete the brief, we need the student to fulfil a number of requirements:

  • The user needs to be able to speak to the AI character using the VR headset’s microphone.
  • The AI character should use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to determine what has been said.
  • A suitable response should be given by the AI using text-to-speech.
  • The system created needs to work within the Unity engine.
  • The speed of the response should make the conversation feel as natural as possible.
  • Realistic lip movement of the AI character is highly desirable.
As well as the technical challenge detailed above, we would like to collaborate with another student who will be investigating the sectors in which this technology would best be utilised.

The student will be expected to do the following:
  • Visit the Volume office to meet the team and discuss the brief.
  • Work with the Volume team to ensure that good coding practices are used.
  • Create a project plan and provide progress updates.
  • Create a working prototype.
  • Demonstrate the prototype at the Volume offices.
  • Document the prototype (including clear code commenting).
  • Collaborate with the student working on the connected brief.
There may also be opportunities to attend relevant events with the Volume team.

Applicant profile:

Given the nature of the project, it is suggested that the students enrol on the MRes Digital Art and Technology course at the University of Plymouth.

The ideal candidate will have a good mix of the following qualities, skills and experience:

  • A keen interest in future technologies.
  • Able to work well in a small team and take on solo projects.
  • Able to work effectively with colleagues who are remote.
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Highly creative and imaginative.
  • Able to learn fast, work hard and prove their dedication.
  • Follow instructions well, but also know when to use initiative.
  • Highly self-motivated and well-organised.
  • Impeccable attention to detail.
  • Excellent time-management skills.
  • Strong Unity skills.
  • Good programming skills and at least a year of experience in C#.
  • Experience of using—and developing for—VR.
  • A strong understanding of NLP and how to use it.
  • Experience of working on commercial projects.
  • Experience of 3D modelling and animation.
  • Games experience is preferable (both playing and developing them).
The candidate should also be
  • Passionate and devoted
  • Optimistic and motivated
  • Respectful and kind-hearted
  • Forward-thinking and self-directed

Salary details:

Successful applicants will receive a scholarship of £3000 towards their course fees. The business (Sponsor) will also receive a stipend of up to £2000 towards agreed costs of materials, travel and accommodation directly associated with the project. Students will receive joint supervision from the business and University staff throughout the duration of the project, impacting positively on their creative practice and future prospects.

Closing date:

13 July 2020

How to apply:

To be considered for this Masters R&D Studentship, please contact us with a covering letter detailing the skills you will bring to this internship and areas you would like to develop through the experience. Please also include a completed Expression of Interest form, your CV and links to your portfolio, if you have one.

If you have not already applied for the MRes Digital Art and Technology, you will need to do this at the same time as applying for the Studentship. To discuss the process for this, or for any enquiries about the course itself, contact Dr Andrew Prior.

Email: plymcreative@plymouth.ac.uk