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Future of Kinect? Microsoft's nearly perfect 3-D model of the human face

August 10, 2011 | William Zimmerman

Microsoft - complex nuances of facial expressions.jpg
You know you're on to something in computer graphics when you get to explain in your research paper how you've advanced the state of the art beyond "The Matrix: Reloaded" and the "Beowulf" remake.

(Microsoft's system picks up the complex nuances of 
an actor's facial expressions. Image credit: Microsoft 
Research, via MSNBC's Geek Wire)

In a paper to be presented at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference in Vancouver, B.C., this week, Microsoft researchers tip their hats to the technologies used in those movies for accurate 3-D computer modeling of the human face.

( is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

But the researchers, from Microsoft's Beijing lab, say they've figured out how to do it even better. The technique they've come up with can automatically model faces with a new level of accuracy -- down to the last wrinkle.

They use a combination of 3-D scanning technology and a motion-capture system (which explains the markers on the actor's face above), plus a technique they developed to determine the minimal number of face scans needed to create an accurate model, which makes the system faster and more efficient.

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