Robot Morphs Its Face, Can Look Like You

WD-2 animated elastic robot face

This has to be the coolest piece of machinery I’ve seen all month. Straight out of a sci-fi movie: The WD-2 robot is a mechanized face that can morph its shape to fit nearly any facial structure (Video included). Paired with a facial projector, this robot can look like almost anyone.

Created by researchers at the Takanishi Lab (Tokyo University), WD-2 has 27 control points for movement (see illustration on their site). The face itself is made from a material called Septom, that contains added steel-wool for extra strength. Truly amazing to watch it transform.

Their idea is then to project a face onto the mask (second video) which they pull off excellently. It’s funny for me because that’s exactly how my concept design was for CADIA’s Superhumanoid: A virtual humanoid with a blank face, his actual expressions projected onto his face via an attached projector (follow the link to the lab to see an image). In any case, I give Takanishi Labs a hat tip, because they pulled that concept off really well.


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You can see some additional specifics about this project at the WD-2 page over at Takanishi Labs.

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8 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. I can’t help but wonder when legislation will start being made about what robots are and are not allowed to do. Think about it, how easy would it be to — in the near future — use this to create a fake video of someone confessing to a crime or something? Or for a government to use this in the same way Big Brother used “Messages from Goldstein” (or the modern day equivalent, the Bush administration and their “Messages from Osama bin Laden”)?

    It makes for wonderful fiction, and while I’m optimistic that the wost case scenario won’t happen (it very rarely ever does), the possibilities introduced by these can be rather frightening. *Thinks back to the Unabomber Manifesto*

  2. Hrafn

    Hehe, yeah. You know a moral guideline was recently drafted regarding the use/misuse of robots and AI. Not sure if it’s been published or if its finished, but if I remember correctly it was more about accidents and government use, rather than individual use. I’m sure it won’t be long until some kind of laws are passed.

    Also, if you haven’t seen it be sure to check out the 3D morphable face system. It can take 2D images of a person and transform it into a 3D animation, which totally falls under your concern for stealing someone’s identity.

  3. At the end of the Japanese narration in the second video they mention using this technology for video phones in the future. I’m not quite sure if I’d want a 3D moving portrait of a face sticking out of the wall when I talk on the phone. Then again it sounds perfect for the world of Harry Potter ;-)

  4. Hrafn

    Hah, thanks for that tidbit Daniel! I must say that it’d probably look awesome. I think I’d go for one. But then, you’re probably right that it could get a bit creepy, say if you forgot to hang up and it’d suddenly reach out screaming “HELLO?!” ;)

  5. louise

    I think this website is amazing it tells you so much. It teches us young kids about so many thing like how the robot reacts to things and what it can do phisicly. I just think its just awsome and cool,and i wana thank the person who made this site.

    thank you,
    love louise u.

  6. Hrafn

    You’re welcome Louise, thanks for the comment — I’m glad you enjoy :)

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