Putting a face to ‘Big Brother’

Jeremiah is a virtual face that you can install for free in your computer. It watches what’s going on and make decisions based on that.

“When he sees children running and laughing and waving at him, he smiles at them. If you ignore him, he gets angry. If you leave, he gets sad. And you can also even surprise him,” says his creator, Richard Bowden, lecturer at the University of Surrey.


Jeremiah works on vision, reacting in a preset way to the data sent by a surveillance system. It is not yet able to talk or to hear you.

Bowden believes virtual humans could be a natural way to interact with all the new hi-tech gadgets.

“If you get up at three o’clock in the morning, and you go downstairs, there are probably two things you are going to do: either going to the bathroom, or maybe you are going to make a cup of tea,” said Dr Bowden. “Now if the system can watch your behaviour over time, it can learn this, so it would predict what you are going to do, turn on the lights for you, or, before you even get to the kettle, it could have switched it on.”

You could even tell your home surveillance system that you will be going away on holiday, and ask if it could make sure that the house is secure.

“When we put the surveillance cameras in our centre, a lot of people were very unhappy about the fact that there was a system watching them,” said Dr Bowden.

“But when Jeremiah’s camera went in, nobody minded, because although it’s still watching them, they could see what it was watching.”

Via BBC News.