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FloBi Robot Head Tracks, Recreates Facial Expressions

CITEC Bielefeld’s anthropomorphic robot head FloBi has been upgraded with a cheap and simple motion-capture setup.  You’ll recall that FloBi is an expressive head with modular parts that allows you to insert different sections of the head to create a male or female robot.

The mo-cap setup is a helmet with a single camera pointed at your face.  It tracks your eyes, eyelids, brows, and mouth using color markers while an X-IMU (intertial measurement unit) detects overall head rotation.  The recorded motion can be viewed using a virtual model or played back on the actual robot.  This means rather than having to animate each segment of the robot’s face by hand (which can also lead to unnatural expressions) all of the motion can be recorded quickly and easily from a real person.

The result is a robot face that, despite being quite simple in appearance, is convincingly lifelike due to its realistic eye movements.  The lips aren’t quite malleable to accurately recreate lip-synching, but given the technical limitations of the robot head, and the simple motion-capture solution they’ve created, I’d say they have been pretty successful.  If you compare FloBi’s expressions to those of KIST’s MERO and you’ll see quite a difference in realism.

Video:

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[source: CITECBielefeld @ YouTube]

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