An avatar that was created to teach maths to primary school students is said to have the ability to detect nine facial expressions.
The 'Easy with Eve' avatar uses complex algorithms to detect and respond to expressions and movements, and the technology is said to have the potential to detect cancer, dispense health advice in the future.
Unitec associate professor Hossein Sarrafzadeh, who led the development of Eve, said that technology had myriad applications.
"We've done some work on language translation so hopefully in the next couple of years Eve will be able to speak and understand different languages," Stuff.co.nz quoted Sarrafzadeh as saying.
"The system also initially detected six facial expressions; now it detects nine.
"The character that we had was toylike and only meant for kids ... but now you can select from six different characters - Eve has some sisters," Sarrafzadeh stated.
A Unitec/China Medical University project is investigating the technology's potential to detect cancer cells, while the Chinese Government has put 180,000 dollars towards the initiative and a provincial government has donated 10,000 dollars.
"We're hoping we'll be able to get more and that the New Zealand Government will be supportive," Sarrafzadeh, who is also working to develop 'Dr Eve', a health advice application, said.
Researchers at Massey University and Unitec are also working together to turn Eve into an intelligent sales assistant that would use customers' facial expressions and gestures captured on a camera to distinguish between serious shoppers and those just browsing.
And they also hope the motion detection technology could be used to help monitor the elderly in their homes - alerting ambulance services if any sudden or unusual movements were detected. (ANI)