Computer scientist turns his face into a remote control

Jacob Whitehill used videoconferencing software to collect examples of the sorts of facial expressions people exhibit while teaching or learning, and used those to develop the facial remote control demo.

Coach potatoes of the world rejoice! A computer scientist has come up with a way to free your hands (for more important things like holding chip bowls and cold beers) by turning your face into a remote control that speeds and slows video playback.

Well actually, coach potatoes will probably need to wait  a bit to experience this breakthrough. The technology development is part of a larger project for using automated facial expression recognition to improve teaching methods.

The intelligent tutoring technology could one day be used to enable recorded videos of courses presented by robots to speed up or slow down based on students’ facial expressions. Among the findings: People blink less often when viewing parts of a lecture they find tough to follow.

Jacob Whitehill showing facial recognition remote control demo
Jacob Whitehill, a computer science Ph.D. student from UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, is heading up the effort and can be seen transforming his face into a remote control in this video

"If I am a student dealing with a robot teacher and I am completely puzzled and yet the robot keeps presenting new material, that's not going to be very useful to me. If, instead, the robot stops and says, 'Oh, maybe you're confused,' and I say, 'Yes, thank you for stopping,' that's really good," said Whitehill in a statement.

Whitehill used videoconferencing software to collect examples of the sorts of facial expressions people exhibit while teaching or learning, and used those to develop the facial remote control demo.

 The project (see paper) uses technology developed at UC San Diego's Machine Perception Laboratory (MPLab). The work is sponsored in part by UCSD’s Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, an NSF-sponsored outfit.

Brain-controlled gaming system falls into 'demo hell'

Start-up tunes facial recognition system for online dating

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in