With machine learning, you can finally make politicians say what you want them to

Researchers have found a way to create (and manipulate) 3D digital models of well-photographed people

Anyone who's watched a political debate has probably wished they could influence the words coming out of a candidate's mouth. Now, machine learning is making that possible -- at least to some extent.

Researchers at the University of Washington have found a way to create fully interactive, 3D digital personas from photos albums and videos of famous people such as Tom Hanks, Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush. Equipped with those 3D models, they could then impose another person's voice, expressions and sentiments on them, essentially rendering the models as 3D digital puppets.

“Imagine being able to have a conversation with anyone you can’t actually get to meet in person -- LeBron James, Barack Obama, Charlie Chaplin -- and interact with them,” said Steve Seitz, a UW professor of computer science and engineering.

To construct such personas, the team used machine learning algorithms to mine 200 or so Internet images taken over time of a particular person in various scenarios and poses. They then developed techniques to capture expression-dependent textures  -- small differences that occur when a person smiles or looks puzzled or moves his or her mouth, for example.

By manipulating the lighting conditions across different photographs, they developed a new approach to densely map the differences from one person’s features and expressions onto another person’s face, making it possible to “control” the digital model with a video of another person.

The video below explains more about the research. 

“How do you map one person’s performance onto someone else’s face without losing their identity?” said Seitz. “That’s one of the more interesting aspects of this work. We’ve shown you can have George Bush’s expressions and mouth and movements, but it still looks like George Clooney.”

The technology relies on advances in 3D face reconstruction, tracking, alignment, multi-texture modeling and puppeteering that have been developed over the last five years by a research group led by UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman. The results will be presented next week in a paper at the International Conference on Computer Vision in Chile.

The research was funded by Samsung, Google, Intel and the University of Washington.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?