Auckland Bioengineering Institute


Laboratory for Animate Technologies

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MIND

Imagine a machine that can laugh and cry, learn and dream, and can express its inner responses to how it perceives you to feel. It can express itself in a natural manner but also allows you to visualise the mental imagery emerging in its mind.

 

The Laboratory for Animate Technologies is creating ‘live’ computational models of the face and brain by combining Bioengineering, Computational and Theoretical Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Computer Graphics Research.

 

We are developing multidisciplinary technologies to create interactive autonomously animated systems which will define the next generation of human computer interaction and facial animation.

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Applications of the technology include both Pure Research and Commercial Applied Research including:
 

∎    Exploration and Embodiment of theories of Brain function and behaviour through computational modeling.

 

∎    New, more natural ways of interacting with Technology through expressive human-machine communication.

 

Our Research
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Neurobehavioural Animation
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Neurobehavioural Animation

We believe the best way to simulate biological behaviour is through biological models.
 

We model the brain processes which give rise to behaviour and social learning and use these to animate lifelike models of the face which can interact with you.
 

BabyX Evolution
BabyX
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BabyX is an interactive animated virtual infant prototype. BabyX is a computer generated psychobiological simulation under development in the Laboratory of Animate Technologies and is an experimental vehicle incorporating computational models of basic neural systems involved in interactive behaviour and learning. 
 

These models are embodied through advanced 3D computer graphics models of the face and upper body of an infant. The system can analyse video and audio inputs in real time to react to the caregiver’s or peer’s behaviour using behavioural models.
 

BabyX embodies many of the technologies we work on in the Laboratory and is under continuous development, in its neural models, sensing systems and also the realism of its real time computer graphics.

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BabyX First Words


   

Interactive Modelling and Simulation of Biologically Based Neural Networks
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Interactive Modelling and Simulation of Biologically Based Neural Networks
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We create interactive models of neural systems and neuroanatomy enabling visualisation of the internal processes generated by computational simulations giving rise to behaviour.
 

The Auckland Face Simulator
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Face Simulation and Biomechanics
The Auckland Face Simulator

The Auckland Face Simulator is being developed to cost effectively create extremely realistic and precisely controllable models of the human face and its expressive dynamics for Psychology research.

 

Example of real time rendering of a student's face produced with the Auckland Face Simulator.
 

Face Simulation and Biomechanics
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Face Simulation and Biomechanics
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We are developing the technology to simulate faces both inside and out. We simulate how faces move and how they look, and even their underlying anatomic structure.

Brain Language
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Brain Language
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We are developing a visual modelling methodology for the construction, visualisation and animation of neural systems called Brain Language [BL], a novel simulation environment for neural models.
 

This allows users to create animations and real-time visualisations from biologically based neural network models, allowing simulation effects to be viewed in an interactive context. Such a visual environment is not only suitable for visualising a simulation; it is also ideal for model development.
 

Facial Tracking and Analysis
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Facial Tracking and Analysis
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We are developing computer vision based systems to track and analyse facial expression and state of the art algorithms to solve for individual facial muscle activation.
 

Applications range from real-time expression recognition to microdynamic interaction analysis for psychology research.
 

News and media coverage
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BabyX Version 3

BabyX Version 3
(Video)

 

Dr. Mark Sagar

ARCHIVE:

How are we advancing artificial intelligence?
Research Works Wonders (Video)

Prince Charles admires Kiwi innovation, economic success
National Business Review, Monday March 24th, 2014

Look who's Thinking
New Zealand Herald, Saturday August 10th, 2013

BabyX at TEDx Auckland 2013
(Video)

BBC World News Impact - Interview Dr Mark Sagar Baby X
(Video)

 

Postgraduate research opportunities
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Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Mark Sagar, m.sagar@auckland.ac.nz

We are interested in hearing from talented, motivated and capable graduates who want to do groundbreaking work.
 

For more information, click here.