Italian-made android can replicate human facial expressions

Face uses cameras and microphones to communicate with people

Italian-made android can replicate human facial expressions

(ANSA) – Rome, October 31 – It may not yet be like the very human-looking Nexus 6 Replicants of Blade Runner fame, but a new, Italian-made android called FACE is getting pretty close. The new android, to be presented at Genova’s Science Festival on November 3, gets its name from the acronym Facial Automaton for Conveying Emotions, which pretty much sums up its main capability: its ability to reproduce facial emotions. The new machine was built at Pisa University’s Piaggio research center and can interact empathically with human beings using non-verbal forms of communication like facial expressions. "The robot’s social interactions are made possible by micro-cameras placed in its eyes and microphones in the ears, which allow it to shift its gaze towards humans, analyze their facial expressions and gestures and from these infer their emotional state," Danilo De Rossi, the project coordinator, told ANSA. "The information thus collected by the robot allows it to reproduce the expression best suited to the occasion," De Rossi said. The robot’s expressions are controlled by a series of miniature motors placed between its skin and the underlying 'bone' structure and functions in the same way as human face muscles. The robot can elaborate a range of facial expressions, including anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. FACE is was also conceived as a way to better treat people affected by autism, De Rossi said, because with the robot "communication is much easier with respect to the human form and the person affected with autism can concentrate on a number of limited and easily reproducible emotional expressions".

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