Monday, November 2, 2015

Talking Heads

Have you ever noticed that people move their heads to go along with what they are feeling? When someone is talking they shake their head, bow, or tilt it. How well do these head movements account for the actual emotion that is going on underneath the face. Steven R. Livingston and Caroline Palmer from McGill University in Montreal want to know the answer to the same question. After coming up with the question inside a noisy bar one weekend night, Dr. Livingston decided to use Motion-Capturing equipment to track people head movements in three dimensions. They used this technology on singers and had them sing multiple songs with a variety of emotions. Livingston and Palmer then showed their participants these three dimensional images of the singers with the facial expressions and sound removed from the video and were asked to identify the emotion. The results showed that people are highly accurate in the judging emotions in people with just head movements, even without sound and facial expressions. This discovery has lead to the ideas of being able to communicate with people with different languages in an emotional context. There is also the possibility of creating better performing robots and new additions to robotics in the way that they can be made to be less creepy than they already are.

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