Deepfakes could help in training videos, University of Bath study claims

Artificial Intelligence

Watching a training video featuring a deepfake version of yourself, rather than a clip featuring somebody else, makes learning faster, easier and more fun, according to new research led by the REVEAL research centre at the University of Bath.

This finding was seen over two separate experiments, one exploring fitness training and another involving public speaking. Dr Christof Lutteroth and Dr Christopher Clarke, both from the Department of Computer Science at Bath and co-authors of the new study, say their findings present two positive use cases for deepfakes. They hope their findings catalyse more research into ways deepfake can be applied to do good in the world.

For the fitness experiment, study participants were asked to watch a training video featuring a deepfake of their own face pasted over the body of a more advanced exerciser.

The researchers chose six exercises (planks, squats, wall squats, sit-ups, squat jumps and press-ups), each targeting a different muscle group and requiring different types of movement.

For each exercise, study participants first watched a video tutorial where a model demonstrated the exercise, and then had a go at repeating the exercise themselves. The model was chosen both to resemble the participant and to outperform them, though their skill level was attainable to the test subject.

The process of watching the video and mimicking the exercise was also performed using a deepfake instructor, where the participant’s own face was superimposed on a model’s body.

For both conditions, the researchers measured the number of repetitions, or the time participants were able to hold an exercise.

For all exercises, regardless of the order in which the videos were watched, participants performed better after watching the video of ‘themselves’, compared to watching a video showing someone else.

“Deepfake was a really powerful tool,” said Dr Lutteroth. “Immediately people could do more press-ups or whatever it was they were being asked to do. Most also marked themselves as doing the exercise better than they did with the non-deepfake tutorial, and enjoyed it more.”

Improved public speaking 

The second FakeForward study by the same team found that deepfake can significantly boost a person’s skills as a public speaker.

When the face of a proficient public speaker was replaced with a user’s, learning was significantly amplified, with both confidence and perceived competence in public speaking growing after watching the FakeForward video.

Many participants felt moved and inspired by the FakeForward videos, saying things such as, “it gives me a lot of strength”, “the deepfake video makes me feel that speaking is actually not that scary” and “when I saw myself standing there and speaking, I kinda felt proud of myself.”

“Deepfakes are used a lot for nefarious purposes, but our research suggests that FakeForward (the name used by the researchers to describe the use of deepfake to teach a new skill) is an unexplored way of applying the technology so it adds value to people’s lives by supporting and improving their performances,” says Dr Clarke.

Dr Lutteroth added: “From this study, it’s clear that deepfake has the potential to be really exciting for people. By following a tutorial where they act as their own tutor, people can immediately get better at a task – it’s like magic.”

Chris Price
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