he 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
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Obama doesn't have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Why we need a maximum wage
Subscribe to the Week