Sometimes technology just gets a little too creepy for its own good. This robotic singing head, created by researchers at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei, is the perfect example. The researchers created a head that can read music and sing a song in a synthesized voice. The research was published in the journal Robotics and Autonomous Systems.
Led by Chyi-Yeu Lin, the researchers designed the robot to take a picture of the music that is annotated with numbers and words, using cameras that are built into its eyes. An algorithm then determines the right pitch, rhythm, and lyrics from the image and relays the data to a voice synthesizer. The synthesizer matches the sounds in the Mandarin language with the Roman spelling of the lyrics. Once the head knows what to do, it will burst out into song.
Lin told New Scientist:
“Maybe it’s one of those things that a robot can do better than ordinary people. It can read [the music] in 40 seconds and then close its eyes to sing.”
According to Lin, most musicians require at least a few minutes to look over new music and even longer to memorise it. The robot head can also sing songs in a variety of languages, as long as the lyrics are written with Roman spelling.
So, what do people really think of the singing heads? A survey of 100 people on the streets of Taipei reported that 50 percent found the heads entertaining. This might mean that the researchers’ plans of designing an entire robotic theatre troupe featuring the singing heads could one day be realized. In the meantime, the researchers intend to develop the heads to serve as receptionists at some large Chinese restaurants.
(via New Scientist)