Computing: Robotic delivery from a former soap star
Scientists at Cambridge University have developed a digital robot capable of expressing speech and emotions with the unlikely help of an actor best known for her role in the TV soap Hollyoaks.
Zoe exists only in a computer screen and makes Siri, Apple’s talking bot for iPhones, seem rather lacking in (artificial) intelligence by comparison. She, too, turns words into speech but also mouths them and conveys emotion with changes in tone and facial expression. Professor Roberto Cipolla, who leads the Zoe project at Cambridge’s Department of Engineering in partnership with the Toshiba Research Laboratory, has called her the “interface of the future”.
Videos show Zoe as a slightly creepy disembodied head, and while her voice remains fairly, well, robotic (Cipolla is working on that) it is startling to see pixels arranged in such expressive, human form. Zoe Lister, formerly known as Zoe Carpenter in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, must take some of the credit. She sat for hours in a lab, talking and gurning for cameras set up to capture her facial movements. But to what end?
Voice command is already threatening to shift keyboards and mice as our input devices of choice. Zoe’s creators see great potential in adding a face. Your friends could receive messages spoken by a version of your face, digital carers could keep patients company or call centre workers could come across as more human. The scientists have also raised the prospect of virtual actors, something the real Zoe may yet regret.
Life & Style blogs
iPhone 6s Plus photos: leaks show Force Touch display, subtly altered size
iPhone 6s and 6s Plus battery capacity will be weaker than predecessors, Apple leaks suggest
Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
Amazon Prime Video launches offline viewing, feature Netflix has said is 'never going to happen'
How to discover who your best friends are on WhatsApp - using a tool within the application
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
- 1 Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
£55000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Design and build advanced appli...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...