Musical Robotic Head

This humanoid robotic head can read a musical score and then sing it.


(Update 20-Feb-2017: Robotic head video)

Chyi-Yeu Lin and colleagues at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei created a robot that first takes a photo of the music, which is notated with numbers and words, using cameras built into the eyes. An algorithm extracts pitch, rhythm, and lyrics from that image and sends the information to a voice synthesiser.

The synthesiser matches sounds in the Mandarin language with the Roman spellings of the lyrics. Then, in a sudden burst of activity, the robot begins to sing, its mouth opening and closing with the words.

"Maybe it's one of those things that a robot can do better than ordinary people," Lin says. "It can read [the music] in 40 seconds and then close its eyes to sing."

Fans of William Gibson may recall the talking head from Neuromancer:

…a head, an intricately worked bust, cloisonné over platinum, studded with seed pearls and lapis. ..The thing was a computer terminal…it could talk. And not in a synth-voice, but with a beautiful arrangement of gears and miniature organ pipes. It was a baroque thing for anyone to have constructed, a perverse thing, because synth-voice chips cost next to nothing…Smith jacked the head into his computer and listened as the melodious, inhuman voice piped the figures of last year's tax return.

From New Scientist.

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