Feeds

Boffins give chatty robots a creepy human face

Face/on

High performance access to file storage

Boffins from Germany and Japan have teamed up to create a human-like face for robots.

It's also a fairly creepy-looking head on a stick. The researchers have dubbed it Mask-bot.

Robotics wizards from Technische Universitat Munchen, along with Japanese scientists, used a projector to beam the 3D image of a human face onto the back of a plastic mask. They then use a computer to control voice and facial expressions to make it seem more lifelike.

Mask-bot can reproduce content typed on a keyboard or 'listen' and make the best answer it has based on a fixed programming sequence.

Have a look at it chatting in English and Japanese below:

While other scientists have come up with 3D heads before, they weren't as realistic as Mask-bot, according to the research, because Mask-bot can be viewed from various angles and doesn't look as cartoony as other heads.

To give the robot head the right facial expressions, researcher Dr Takaaki Kuratate developed a "talking head animation engine", where a computer runs through lots of footage of people talking collected by a motion capture system and chooses an expression based on the phoneme, or sound, that is being said.

The boffins hope the technology will be used to give robots in the future a human face, but say "it may well soon be used to create avatars for participants in video conferences". Whether anyone would want to talk to a plastic-head, computer-generated version of their workmates instead of the person themselves on a video link remains to be seen.

Kuratate also said the system could "soon" be used to keep old people company, though the prototype – complete with oddly coloured scarf – is more likely to give your gran a heart attack than be her new best friend. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels
How the internet of things has deep roots in the English countryside
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.