Charles the robot is part of research being done at the Department of Computer Science and Technology to apply human body language to machines to see if people are able to engage with them more.
A robot has been built at Cambridge University that can mimic the facial expressions of human beings. Charles the robot is part of research being done at the Department of Computer Science and Technology to apply human body language to machines to see if people are able to engage with them more.
The scientists hoped to discover if the machines could respond to the same social cues as humans and encourage people to engage with the machines more.
Charles is made up of a system of computer programmes linked up to a camera - which can read people's faces. The computer reads the positions of the face, including the eyebrows, jaw and mouth, then sends the information over to Charles who mimics the expression in just two to three seconds.
"We've been interested in seeing if we can give computers the ability to understand social signals, to understand facial expressions, tone of voice, body posture and gesture.
"We thought it would also be interesting to see if the computer system, the machine, could actually exhibit those same characteristics, and see if people engage with it more because it is showing the sort of responses in it's facial expressions that a person would show. So we had Charles made." (15.1)
Charles hasn't quite perfected the art of human emotion just yet, as his control programmes are "not quite fine enough" to look completely authentic, according to Prof Robinson. He said: "Our control programmes are just not quite fine enough and the monitoring of the human face we're using at the moment is just not quite good enough and so it looks unnatural.”
Most people when they see this find it slightly strange and that's actually an indication that people are very good at seeing something wrong in somebody else's facial expression. It could be a sign that they're ill or something else.
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