“To create a robot we are more likely to accept, life-like expressions are vital.” That’s the motivation that led scientists to build this robot, according to the New Scientist write up.
It’s an odd statement not only because it makes you wonder why life-like expressions is so crucial—are we planning to emotionally manipulate the ignorant masses using robotic faces?—but also because of how far they still have to go, judging from how difficult blinking looks. Ouch. And there’s also the, uh, sound effects.
The latest Geminoid robot is the most lifelike one yet, and yet I still think there’s something creepy about its glazed, deadbeat expression and evil (OK, I might be reading into it) side-long glance.
His name is Geminoid DK, and yes it’s a he: Henrik Scharfe of Denmark’s Aalborg University worked with Japan’s Kokoro entertainment company to create this avatar of himself. The android holds the distinction of being the first Geminoid modeled after a non-Japanese person (it’s also the first facial-haired bot of the lot).
The virtual world is getting more realistic. New animation advancements in true-to-reality rumpling of clothes and face reddening are pushing us closer to the event horizon of the Uncanny Valley.
The first advancement is an algorithm designed to give animated clothes life-like wrinkling and crumpling while you are besting that orc. While more realistically rendered clothing won’t increase your manna, it may make digital effects in the next Matrix movie even better, New Scientist reports:
“This is exactly what people like me want,” says Andy Lomas, a software developer who produced digital effects for the film The Matrix and is based at computer graphics firm The Foundry in London. “I want to be able to capture the fundamental nature of an actor’s clothing, but also have the freedom to change the way he or she moves.”
The algorithm was created from footage of people IRL. The researchers, lead by Carsten Stoll at the Max Plank Institute, mapped the actor’s movements (and how their clothes moved in reaction) onto a skeleton, which they could animate. Animations of new movements of the skeleton were able to recreate how clothing would move in real life, Stoll told New Scientist:
“If the double is wearing a chiffon skirt in the original sequence, it will swish realistically in all of the new sequences too,” says Stoll.