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Mobile Information Systems
Volume 4 (2008), Issue 3, Pages 195-209

GAIML: A New Language for Verbal and Graphical Interaction in Chatbots

Roberto Pirrone, Giuseppe Russo, Vincenzo Cannella, and Daniele Peri

DINFO, Universitá degli Studi Palermo, Palermo, Italy

Received 20 November 2008; Accepted 20 November 2008

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Natural and intuitive interaction between users and complex systems is a crucial research topic in human-computer interaction. A major direction is the definition and implementation of systems with natural language understanding capabilities. The interaction in natural language is often performed by means of systems called chatbots. A chatbot is a conversational agent with a proper knowledge base able to interact with users. Chatbots appearance can be very sophisticated with 3D avatars and speech processing modules. However the interaction between the system and the user is only performed through textual areas for inputs and replies. An interaction able to add to natural language also graphical widgets could be more effective. On the other side, a graphical interaction involving also the natural language can increase the comfort of the user instead of using only graphical widgets. In many applications multi-modal communication must be preferred when the user and the system have a tight and complex interaction. Typical examples are cultural heritages applications (intelligent museum guides, picture browsing) or systems providing the user with integrated information taken from different and heterogenous sources as in the case of the iGoogle™ interface. We propose to mix the two modalities (verbal and graphical) to build systems with a reconfigurable interface, which is able to change with respect to the particular application context. The result of this proposal is the Graphical Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (GAIML) an extension of AIML allowing merging both interaction modalities. In this context a suitable chatbot system called Graphbot is presented to support this language. With this language is possible to define personalized interface patterns that are the most suitable ones in relation to the data types exchanged between the user and the system according to the context of the dialogue.