The video: Most humanoid robots currently being tested in labs are emotionless, awkward machines. But not Mask-Bot. This new robot has a lifelike human face, created using computerized 3-D images projected onto a plastic visage. Mask-Bot uses a "talking mask animation engine" to convey emotions like humans do, using everything from blinks to raised eyebrows. (Watch a video below.) Researchers say Mask-Bot could revolutionize video conferencing (by projecting the face of a remote employee onto a plastic mold in the conference room), or provide comfort for elderly people with little human interaction.
The reaction: Even if Mask-Bot can deliver "visible emotional nuances," it's still a "creepy way to give robots realistic human faces," says Olivia Solon at Wired. But the "weirdest part," says Rebecca Boyle at Popular Science, "is the animation engine, which uses a database of facial emotion data that was previously collected using a motion-capture system." The robot uses that information to decide which facial expressions to use in which situations — or "perhaps just to personify Skynet once it becomes aware." See for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How Wall Street is chipping away at reform
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2014
- How I lost all my money
- Pope Francis' American problem
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
Subscribe to the Week