Have you met Zoe? She’s out of this world…literally
Remember the movie Avatar? I remember watching that movie and thinking how cool it would be to have my own avatar. And then I just got a little freaked out by the whole concept of artificial intelligence and the possibility of our society getting too smart for itself. While this idea may offer merely a chuckle, hold off on that laughter until you see what the University of Cambridge is doing in their spare time! Let me introduce you to Zoe. She is a virtual ‘talking head’ that can mimic human emotions, simulate vocal emotion and even has the potential in the near future to deliver messages with suggested feelings specified by the sender.
This isn’t the first time this sort of technology has surfaced. However, Zoe is considered to be the most realistic and advanced avatar of her kind. Researchers are still playing around with the program’s capabilities, but they have some pretty ambitious ideas on what Zoe could bring in the future. It is theorized that there could soon be the ability to change the face and voice to be yours and send text messages just by saying them aloud to Zoe. She could then send that message to the receiver, displaying your sadness, happiness or excitement with your message.
After watching the video of Zoe, I have to admit that all the digital components that make up the virtual face really gave me the creeps. Her teeth look like little fangs, and her “face” reminds me of the little girl’s face in the last Twilight movie; distorted and bizarre. But hey, she WAS only created in a matter of days. I’m sure with more time and research she has the potential to make a user feel as though they’re having a conversation with a real person. That’s the goal, anyway.
If you really stop to consider where technology can take us, it’s pretty astounding! Most of us live with our cell phones either on us or right next to us at all minutes of the day. We have more information loaded into a 4 X 2 computer than we could ever imagine, and yet the advancement of technology is endless. Zoe was created using such a small size in megabytes that she could even be the next thing to show up on your smartphone. It’s the old cliche that our grandparents say to us; “Back in my day…” There will always be generational gaps and developments that push the boundaries, but imagining a future where there’s no need to know which buttons to push or programs to open. You simply talk to your phone/computer and you are instantly communicating! It’s these forward-thinking ideas that bring a new kind of living to fruition. Maybe we’ll all have avatars in the near future and just imagine the possibilities!
Be sure to share your thoughts about Zoe and the future of technology in the comments below.