Universal translators are something of a holy grail in mobile tech trends--and Microsoft's just revealed its latest effort at its own TechFest show. It's real-time. And it uses your own voice and face.
A team of animators has hacked Microsoft's Kinect sensor suite to create a motion-replication system that powers CGI characters. Remember Gollum in Lord of The Rings? Yup--kinda like that. (But way cheaper.)
One thing you aren't likely to hear Sunday night from the Oscar-winning producer after accepting the trophy for Best Picture: "I'd like to thank my neuroscience partners who helped us enhance the film's script, characters, and scenes." It's not that far-fetched, though.
If you watched "Jeopardy!" last night, you saw an IBM supercomputer named Watson cream two human champions -- at least until it made a few dumb mistakes late in the round and allowed Brad Rutter to tie things up. But you also saw Watson's "face" -- the swirling electronic avatar that Alex Trebek dryly rebuked when it buzzed in with an incorrect answer that Ken Jennings had already made. (Guess we shouldn't fear a robot uprising quite yet.)
IBM hired veteran digital artist Joshua Davis to create Watson's avatar, and made a video describing the designer's process (skip to 1:35):
About 33% of box-office earnings are now generated from 3-D films, and in 2010 six of the top 10 highest-grossing movies were shot using the technology, with the top two, "Toy Story 3" and "Alice in Wonderland," banking more than a billion dollars each. That's where the trouble starts.