Lip-sync and animation system supports MMS products

Claudia Ho

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CityU’s Department of Computer Engineering and Information Technology signed a contract with Real-time Communications (HK) Limited (REAL TIME) on 18 March to jointly develop multimedia message services (MMS) products for the mainland mobile communications market using its real-time lip-sync and animation system. This innovative system can create human and animal characters from photos or cartoon drawings and synchronise their lip movements and voice signals. This will have various applications in digital entertainment, such as on the Internet and mobile phones. Collaboration between CityU and REAL TIME enables MMS users to send animation movies as well as text and still pictures on mobile phones, symbolising yet another success in CityU’s transfer of advanced technologies to industry.


The real-time lip-sync and animation system was developed by Hong Yan, Professor (Chair) of Computer Engineering at CityU. “This system performs many sophisticated multimedia data processing functions, including speech analysis, image and video processing, data compression, and mathematical modelling of human and animal faces. All computations are performed in real-time. The system, which works with several major languages, such as Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish, can create and animate a human or animal character from photos or cartoon drawings and generate different facial expressions, such as a frown, a smile and laughter, making a virtual character appear to talk as naturally as a human.” For computer and mobile phone applications, the user can choose a favourite character from a large database of several hundred human or animal images. The system can produce 20 image frames per second.


At the signing ceremony, Professor Roderick Wong, Dean of Research & Graduate Studies, said, “CityU emphasizes both teaching and research. On the research front, the University focuses on applied research with a view to supporting various industries. We hope we can contribute to strengthening their professional knowledge and skills in order to enhance their competitiveness in the face of ever-changing demands of the market. CityU is pleased to provide the Real-time Communications (HK) Limited with Professor Hong Yan’s facial animation products to help the company enhance its product quality and to develop new business opportunities.”


Officiating at the signing ceremony were Professor Roderick Wong; Professor Chan Chi Hou, Dean of Faculty of Science and Engineering; Professor Hong Yan; and Mr Jonathan Ma Wai Tat, Executive Director, Mr Joseph W O Chu, Chief Engineer, Mr Chong Wei Lam, Marketing Manager, of REAL TIME.


Professor Hong Yan, who created the novel design of the real-time lip-sync and animation system, received his PhD degree from YaleUniversity and has over 20 years of R&D experience in digital media technology. He has published numerous technical papers in international journals and conferences and is a Fellow of the International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR) and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia (IEAust). Professor Yan’s facial animation system is an example of CityU’s many achievements in hi-tech applied research and demonstrates CityU’s strong commitment to transferring its cutting-edge research results to local industry.


Real-time Communications (HK) Limited and its affiliates provide wireless interactive entertainment and community services to mobile phone users in China. REAL TIME specialises in the development, aggregation, marketing and distribution of consumer wireless content and applications for access by China’s 330 million plus mobile phone users. REAL TIME’s MMS and WAP services include advanced personalization features, such as animated cartoons and comic strips, polyphonic ringtones and short video clips and WAP magazines.


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