Microsoft's Virtual Receptionist Looks Pretty Cool; Still Doesn't Sound Like a Human


Microsoft has posted a video demonstrating its Situated Interaction project, which the company says "aims to enable a new generation of interactive systems that can reason about their surroundings and embed interaction deeply into the natural flow of everyday tasks, activities, and collaborations."

To show off the technology in a possible real-world application, researcher Dan Bohus introduces a virtual receptionist he says is capable of free-flowing conversation. In the video, a realistic looking woman appears on screen and immediately recognizes everyone within view of the camera and tracks their poses, such as whether an individual is facing the screen or looking around elsewhere. Combined with which direction the microphone picks up sounds, the clothes worn by the 'actors,' and other variables, the virtual receptionist is able to figure out which individuals are in a group together.

The demonstration is pretty impressive, marred only by the woman's voice. This undoubtedly will improve over time, but as far as the video goes, we're reminded of the old Dr. Sbaitso program for DOS, a virtual psychiatrist app that came with some Sound Blast soundcards in the early 1990s.

View the video here , then hit the jump and tell us what you think.

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