Professor Chyi-Yeu Lin of the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology has experimented with robot heads before (here's a few of them), and now his team has built a robot that can read music and emote according to the song's lyrics. Too bad this head looks like the Bride of Johnny Cab.

From the paper "A face robot for autonomous simplified musical notation reading and singing" (PDF link):

This research is aimed to devise an anthropomorphic robotic head with a human-like face and a sheet of artificial skin that can read a randomly composed simplified musical notation and sing the corresponding content of the song once. The face robot is composed of an artificial facial skin that can express a number of facial expressions via motions driven by internal servo motors. Two cameras, each of them installed inside each eyeball of the face, provide vision capability for reading simplified music notations. Computer vision techniques are subsequently used to interpret simplified musical notations and lyrics of their corresponding songs. Voice synthesis techniques are implemented to enable the face robot to sing songs by enunciating synthesized sounds. Mouth patterns of the face robot will be automatically changed to match the emotions corresponding to the lyrics of the songs.


Click to viewClick on the box at left to see this robot warble a tune. According to Dr. Lin, it takes 40 seconds for the robot to learn a song.

Still, in a random survey of 100 Taipei passers-by, only 50% found this singing robotic head "entertaining." Maybe that's why Lin's team is further refining these heads to serve as greeters in restaurants. Alas, the robotic entertainment industry ain't that different from meatbag show biz.

[Science Direct via New Scientist]