Holly A Future Reality?

New "virtual talking head" compared to Red Dwarf's computer

22 March, 2013

There are areas of the news we expect Red Dwarf to show up in every so often - but we have to be honest, they're usually the television pages. We were therefore surprised, but no less amused, to see the series namechecked in a number of reports in tech sections this week.

Holly A Future Reality?

Over in Cambridge, scientists from the University have teamed up with the Toshiba Research Lab to come up with a "virtual talking head", designed to convey speech and emotion and also possibly eventually to serve as a virtual personal assistant. And the end result, showing a disembodied head on a black background, has drawn a rather obvious comparison, with many reporters likening it to Red Dwarf's own Holly.

In fact, the similarities may not be accidental. "Some of our team are hardcore Red Dwarf fans, so having a talking head as funny as Holly would be a clear win," said Toshiba's Bjorn Stenger. Meanwhile, engineer Roberto Cipolla explained that the technology "could be the start of a whole new generation of interfaces which make interacting with a computer much more like talking to another human being."

Of course, the AI - voiced and motion-captured by the coincidentally-named Hollyoaks actress Zoe Lister - is some way off flying mining ships or reading Agatha Christie novels just yet. But it does make us wonder which of Red Dwarf's other future technologies might begin to creep into the real world in years to come. Artificial Reality games? Zero-gee football? Or anti-matter chopsticks...?

Read more and see a tech demo at Wired.

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