Zoe, the new virtual talking head

Virtual talking head can express human emotions

In the recent years we have developed all kinds of new technology that gives and receives voice commands and answers such as in-car GPS units, Siri on the iPhone, and other such devices. Despite these advances, the University of Cambridge didn’t feel that these said technologies were personal enough.

Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Lab and the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering wanted to put a face with the name. They came up with a floating head that recites more than 7,000 lines in a variety of emotions. The six basic emotions she shows are: happy, sad, tender, angry, afraid, and neutral.

How does it work?

The user types a phrase for Zoe to say, then six sliders allow you to change the emotions. For example you can combine happiness and anger, setting them to halfway or full strength, depending on what you want her to convey. You can even speed up or slow down Zoe’s speech.

Why do we need a talking head?

The researchers that developed Zoe see her being used in the future as a personal assistant, but there are other potential applications as well because the framework for the face is very light which means that is can be incorporated into small devices. It could also enable people to upload their own faces and voices into the program. They envision these being used as ‘face messages’ rather than text messages.

They also believe it could be used with autistic and deaf children, teaching them to read emotions and lips.

See it in action : Zoe the talking head

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