Scientists have claimed that a virtual "talking head" called Zoe expresses a range of human emotions and could one day be used as a personal assistant.
The disembodied head generates voice and facial expression from typed text but could be used as a digital personal assistant similar to Holly, the computer on the sci-fi comedy 'Red Dwarf,' Sky News reported.
The head is so lifelike that it is being used to teach children suffering from autism to recognise emotion and deaf children to lip-read.
Professor Roberto Cipolla, an engineer at Cambridge University, said that this technology could be the start of a whole new generation of interfaces which make interacting with a computer much more like talking to another human being.
The face is that of 'Hollyoaks' actress Zoe Lister, whose speech and facial expressions were recorded by researchers over several days, and then the face was super-imposed over a computer generated template.
In the future, it will be possible for all the users to upload their own faces and voices to create a personal digital assistant on their smartphone.
Zoe's voice has six basic settings - happy, sad, tender, angry, afraid and neutral and users can adjust the settings to different levels, as well as changing the pitch, speed and depth of the voice itself.