Microsoft’s ‘Virtual human’ Milo unveiled at TED in Oxford

July 14th, 2010 - 4:16 pm ICT by ANI  

London, July 14 (ANI): Microsoft has unveiled its “virtual human”, known as Milo, that reacts to a person’s emotions, body movements and voice.Milo is designed for use with the firm’s hands-free Xbox 360 motion controller called Kinect.

The technology is the brainchild of veteran UK games designer Peter Molyneux.

“I want to introduce a new revolution in storytelling,” the BBC quoted him as telling he told the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Global conference in Oxford.

Molyneux said 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.

The live demonstration used Microsoft’s soon-to-be released Kinect controller, which uses a series of sensors, cameras and microphones to interpret a player’s intentions.

An assistant conducted the demo, showing Milo exploring a garden, learning to skim stones and finally confiding in him after being told off by his parents.

“We’re changing the mind of Milo constantly. 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,” he said.

Molyneux said Milo had been built using artificial intelligence developed by his firm Lionhead studios, along with technology that was “hidden in the dusty vaults of Microsoft”.

He said the system exploited psychological techniques to make a person feel that Milo was real.

In addition, software allowed “complete control” over subtle facial elements such as blushing and even the diameter of Milo’s nostrils, which he said could denote stress.

Milo interprets commands by using voice-recognition software along with a database that attempted to interpret the players intonation and meaning.

The demonstration showed the initial stages of the game, where players learn to interact with Milo.

He said that the later stages of the game, which were not shown, allowed a player to explore the landscape with Milo more freely.

At the moment, the technology is still in development and Microsoft has no plans to release it, said Molyneux.

However, he hinted that the game was designed to be used for millions of people and therefore could one day become a commercial product.

“His mind is based in the cloud. As millions of people use it, Milo will get smarter,” he told the audience. (ANI)

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