This Animatronic Mouth Mimics Speech With Servos

Of the 43 muscles that comprise the human face, only a few are actually important to speaking. And yet replicating the movements of the mouth by mechanical means always seems to end up only partly convincing. Servos and linkages can only approximate the complex motions the lips, cheeks, jaw, and tongue are capable of. Still, there are animatronics out there that make a good go at the job, of which this somewhat creepy mechanical mouth is a fine example.

Why exactly [Will Cogley] felt the need to build a mechanical maw with terrifying and fairly realistic fangs is anyone’s guess. Recalling his lifelike disembodied animatronic heart build, it just seems like he pursues these builds for the challenge of it all. But if you thought the linkages of the heart were complex, wait till you see what’s needed to make this mouth move realistically. [Will] has stuffed this pie hole with nine servos, all working together to move the jaw up and down, push and pull the corners of the mouth, raise and lower the lips, and bounce the tongue around.

It all seems very complex, but [Will] explains that he actually simplified the mechanical design to concentrate more on the software side, which is a text-to-speech movement translator. Text input is translated to phonemes, each of which corresponds to a mouth shape that the servos can create. It’s pretty realistic although somewhat disturbing, especially when the mouth is placed in an otherwise cuddly stuffed bear that serenades you from the nightstand; check out the second video below for that.

[Will] has been doing a bang-up job on animatronics lately, from 3D-printed eyeballs to dexterous mechatronic hands. We’re looking forward to whatever he comes up with next — we think.

Continue reading “This Animatronic Mouth Mimics Speech With Servos”

MotorMouth For Future Artificial Humans

When our new computer overlord arrives it’ll likely give orders using an electromagnetic speaker (or more likely, by texting instead of talking). But for a merely artificial human being, shouldn’t we use an artificial mouth with vocal cords chords, nasal cavity, tongue,  teeth and lips? Work on such a thing is scarce these days, but [Martin Riches] developed a delightful one called MotorMouth between 1996 and 1999.

It’s delightful for its use of a Z80 processor and assembly language, things many of us remember fondly, as well as its transparent side panel, allowing us to see the workings in action. As you’ll see and hear in the video below, it works quite well given the extreme difficulty of the task.

Continue reading “MotorMouth For Future Artificial Humans”

Mouth-powered Tools That Will Make Your Dentist Cringe

Want to try your luck drilling out a PCB with this mouth-powered drill? [Cheng Guo] shows off one of his many mouth-powered tools above. It’s a tiny drill which spins with the opening and closing of your  jaw. The concept may seem a bit silly, but his ability to fabricate these machines is fantastic.

The clip after the break starts off with the drilling demo seen above. From there he shows off several different tools. One is a molding machine that uses your breathing to spin a mold, thereby forcing the material inside to conform to its shape. There’s also a wood lathe. You hold the cutting tool in the your mouth and spin the mechanism with a bow and string setup. If you’re good at sucking, his vacuum former is right up your alley. Just heat up the plastic stock in the microwave and suck with all your might. Finally he shows off an extruder. We’re not quite sure how that one works.

Continue reading “Mouth-powered Tools That Will Make Your Dentist Cringe”