Microsoft’s Virtual Boy Astounds Us


project natal virtual human

He will answer your questions and if you make fun of him he blushes and walks away.

In fact Milo is just like any other boy his age only with one important difference – he is a computer programme.

The four-year-old has been unveiled by Microsoft as the world’s first real virtual character who is convincing enough to be considered‘human’.

The player’s voice commands and physical movements are picked up by an infra-red sensor which works with artificial intelligence to interpret the player’s intonation and meaning, and respond accordingly.

On demonstrations his conversation is utterly believable and he replies to questions just like a real four-year-old.

At one point he throws the player a pair of goggles, and so enthralled is she that she bends down to pick them up, even though there is nothing to grab.

When asked if he has finished his school project, Milo sulks off with his head down, not looking at the camera to show that he has been chastised.

Microsoft claims the game marks a major shift away from joystick-based entertainment and brings Science Fiction into life.

And whilst the demonstrations are astonishing, one problem the company has to get over is just how creepy it is.

Milo is being designed for use by millions of people and that the more people play the game the smarter he will get – which sounds like a recipe for creating a Lawnmower Man-style nightmare.

‘Milo’ is a story-telling game about a little boy who’s unhappy because his family has moved from London to New England in America and his parents are too busy to listen to what’s on his mind.

Developer Peter Molyneux said he wanted to recreate the feeling he had as a four-year-old boy when his father told him a story about a robot.

He admitted that when he first showed off Milo ‘there was a huge row online about that with people saying ‘this can’t be real’’.

But he assured them it was and said he started the project because he wanted to ‘introduce a new revolution in storytelling.

‘Films, TV, even hallowed books, are just rubbish because they don’t involve me,’ he said. ‘It’s a sea of blandness.’

He added that he wanted to create a character ‘that seemed alive, that would look me in the eyes, and feel real.

Milo was first shown off in a demo at the E3 expo in 2009, but has not been seen since until the  TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Global conference in Oxford.

‘We’re changing the mind of Milo constantly,’ Molyneux said. ‘No two people’s Milos can be the same – you are actually sculpting a human being. Some of the things you are doing will change the course of his life.’

Milo works with the soon-to-be released Xbox 360 Kinect controller – as series of sensors, microphones and cameras interpret the player’s actions movements.

That combines with artificial intelligence he has developed by his own company, Lionhead Studios, which made use of psychological techniques to make it feel ‘real’.

Particular attention was paid to Milo’s facial expressions which are incredibly realistic, allowing him to blush and his nostrils to dilate, indicating he is stressed.

The game is still in the early stages of development so will not be available for some time but it has already sparked serious excitement.

‘After three-quarters of a hour, he recognises you, said Molyneux. ‘I can promise you that if you are sitting in front of this screen, that is a truly wonderful moment.’

This article credited in it’s entirety to: Meet Milo: Microsoft’s Virtual Four-Year-Old Boy Who Act Just Like A Real Child, at MailOnline

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Virtual Boy Astounds Us

    • Peter Molyneux is genius in the area of AI for entertainment software. Maybe you’ll remember his best selling game: Black and White from Lionhead Studios? This latest creation holds a lot of promise for all sorts of graphic user interface; not just games. Glad you liked it and agreed – the future of AI is really exciting!

  1. I was searching online for some info since yesterday night and I at long last found what i was looking for! This is a excellent web site by the way, however it appears a little difficult to read in my iphone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s