A robot face so realistic that it can even flutter its eyelids has been hailed by its inventors as the next-step in human-robot relations.
Mask-bot, developed by engineers at the Technical University of Munich and in Japan, can also move its head a little, raise its eyebrows and talk, bringing the sort of robots seen on blockbuster I, Robot a step closer.
The realism is achieved by a projector positioned behind the mask accurately beaming a human face onto the back of a mask
, producing features that can even be seen from the side.
Mask-bot will influence the way in which we humans communicate with robots in the future,predicts Professor Gordon Cheng, head of the research team.
The robots language skills are already such that upon hearing the word rainbow， it replies: When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act like a prism and form a rainbow.
However, Mask-bot is not yet able to understand much of the spoken word.
Mask-bots face has its origins in cinema technology first developed by Walt Disney.
Whereas Walt Disney projected images from the front, the makers of Mask-bot use on-board rear projection to ensure a seamless face-to-face interaction.
Mask-bot is also bright enough to function in daylight thanks to a particularly strong and small projector and a coating of luminous paint sprayed on the inside of the plastic mask.