Lip-reading Computers

by Mark R

lip-reading-computer1Anyone remember that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where the two astronauts are talking, and they didn’t want the HAL 9000 to overhear them? So what do they do? They close themselves off in a soundproofed space-pod, and they believe that they could talk freely. Unfortunately, HAL’s little red light of an eye can read their lips.

Well, we didn’t have lip reading computers in 2001, but it looks like we will have them before 2010. It would appear that researchers at the University of East Anglia’s School of Computing Sciences have “developed the [lip-reading] technology by statistically modeling the lip motions of 23 bilingual and trilingual speakers”.

So not only can the computer read lips, but it can also tell what language that you are speaking! I believe that the computer is fluent in English, French, German, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Polish, and Russian.

How does this revolutionary technology work? Apparently, it is all about the articulators, these little twitches in your tongue, jaw, and lips that are also detected by the hearing-impaired when they read lips.

I suppose the police and military, as well as the hearing impaired, can use this technology, but I can also think of another use. See those faint lines on the head of the woman in the picture? It reminds me of the scene in T2: Judgment Day (extended version) when the Terminator tries to learn how to smile. Arnold wasn’t able to pull it off, and didn’t the terminators take over in the future? Maybe it all began with the lip-reading.


One review or comment

John Salamon Says: May 4, 2009 at 8:19 am

Very cool article, will computers understand what I’m saying after drinking a six pack. If so it can translate to my wife.

Adelaide Computer

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