Social interactions are central to human life. For most people, moving your face to express your emotions is an automatic and natural thing. But what happens when you cannot move the muscles of your face? In the Dutch TV program “Je zal het maar hebben” (loosely translated as: “what if you have it”) presenter Tim Hofman follows young people with a special condition. In the episode that aired last Tuesday, the program followed Arnoud, who has Moebius syndrome. People born with this syndrome have paralysed facial muscles. This means he always has the same expression. To find out what this expression expressed, Tim and Arnoud went by our office to measure his expression with FaceReader.
Why does the shower curtain always stick to your legs? What is more sustainable, cheese or herring? These kind of questions were asked in the annual national science quiz (de Nationale Wetenschapsquiz 2017), which aired the 26th of December (watch it here). Ionica Smeets and Pieter Hulst presented the quiz and the guests were three duos consisting of a scientist and an artist. In this program, the teams tried to answer surprising and interesting questions on scientific research. You can find all the questions and answers here (in Dutch). Two teams played the finale, where the program used our FaceReader software in a very interesting way.
In many futuristic movies, you see robots performing countless day-to-day tasks. Well… the future is here (almost)! For a project funded by COMMIT, we helped create a robot receptionist, named R3D3 (Rolling Receptionist Robot with Double Dutch Dialogue). The aim of this project was to create a combination of a virtual human and a robot capable of verbal and non-verbal interactions with humans. Together with University of Twente’s HMI and RAM, we succeeded in building a robot platform with the technical capacities to realize such interactions.
The R3D3 prototype can drive around, adjust its height, and carries a tablet with a virtual human face. The robot includes technology for speech recognition and speech production, and has FaceReader based computer vision techniques that can recognize gender, age and emotions. In addition, the virtual avatar on the tablet can interact with people. Here we report the results of three pilot studies, carried out to evaluate the performance of the robot and investigate how people reacted to it. Each pilot tested a different target population; shop visitors, police personnel, and children.