Scientists create eerie robot designed to predict when you smile

A team of researchers developed a new robot designed to anticipate when you smile and then return with its own smile nearly immediately.

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A new study published in the journal Science Robotics details the creation of a robot that's designed to predict when a human is about to smile and return the smile with its own.

The idea behind the creation of the robot named "Emo" is to assist humanoid robots in appearing more natural when faced with human interaction. The study explains that Emo is capable of predicting the smile of human its facing within one second, and is able to achieve this through cameras within the pupils of its eyes. Once the smile is detected, Emo will respond with its own smile, which isn't much of a smile and is more of a grimace, at approximately the same time as your smile being full.

The team was able to train Emo to detect smiles by performing "self modeling" in front of it. This process included the robots initiating random facial movements, which then led to Emo learning to control its facial actuators. To learn to detect a smile the researchers fed Emo with several hours of human facial expressions, leading to Emo being able to accurately predict when a smile is about to occur.

"I'm a jaded roboticist, but I smile back at this robot," study coauthor Hod Lipson, at Columbia University

"I think predicting human facial expressions accurately is a revolution in [human robot interaction]," study lead author Yuhang Hu, from Columbia, said in a statement about the work. "In the future, when interacting with a robot, it will observe and interpret your facial expressions, just like a real person."

"Whereas delayed facial mimicry looks disingenuous, facial coexpression feels more genuine because it requires correct inference of the human's emotional state for timely execution," the researchers wrote in the study.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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