LightHead - the retro-projected face with real-time animations
In 2009, PhD researcher and my good friend Frédéric Delaunay from The University of Plymouth pioneered a novel design for a humanoid face. Fred is doing his PhD as part of The CONCEPT Project led by Tony Belpaeme. His design is cheaper and more robust alternative to other robot face technologies because it is based on retro-projected live-generated face animations. As you will see in the video below many current designs face serious problems when it comes to their price, maintenance or realness of face expressions and HRI (Human Robot Interaction) experience. Fred's system uses a small laser projector that projects real-time face expressions on a semi-transparent face mask. These real-time animations are generated through his software based on an open source 3D content creation suite Blender.
Fred is currently extending the system so it could elicit rich and dynamical expressions that are not only based on the animated face expressions but also on their dynamics as well as the dynamics of head movements. I think we have a lot to look forward especially because many ongoing projects are using similar retro-projected faces. If you would like to stay updated on Fred's work then follow the LightHead page on Google+.