A virtual “talking head,” which can express a full range of human emotions and could be used as a digital personal assistant, has been developed by researchers at Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Lab and the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering.
Known as Zoe, the talking head is based on the face of actress Zoe Lister, who plays Zoe Carpenter in the Channel 4 series Hollyoaks. Zoe can display emotions such as happiness, anger, and fear, and changes its voice to suit the feeling that the user wants it to simulate.
Users can type in a message, specifying the requisite emotion or combination of emotions, and the face will recite the text. According to its designers, Zoe is the most expressive controllable avatar ever created, replicating human emotions with “unprecedented realism”.