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The desire to create talking human heads stems back at least several hundred years (see simulacra and early talking machines for additional information). This quest presently combines approaches that are computational, cognitive, and biological, and cuts across a wide variety of domains and interests. This Talking Heads website provides a brief overview of some of these areas and attempts to convey some of the excitement that has spurred a considerable amount of international research collaboration.

Of considerable importance to a variety of researchers is the need to model aspects of talking heads based upon an understanding of human physiology. This approach cuts across a number of topics, including articulatory synthesis (see virtual vocal tracts); models of speech motor control; simulations and modeling of different articulator systems, including the lips, jaw, and tongue; and facial animation.

The applications of this work are also diverse, ranging from research tools for working with the hearing impaired to the creation of and improvements in avatars that are beginning to populate cyberspace. Virtual humans and other virtual personalities will be appearing more and frequently in a variety of places, including film, TV, toys, and video games. The realism of these simulations will be dependent, in part, on the incorporation of the relevant physiological knowledge in the computational models of the wide varieties of cyber-entities that will inhabit our future.