A Hollyoaks actress has been digitally recreated as part of a groundbreaking virtual head that could replace the text emoticons we use today.
Researchers say the interactive computer face, based on 31-year-old soap actress Zoe Lister, can display six emotions including happiness, anger, and fear.
The lifelike figure, which generates voice and facial expressions from typed text, can combine these basic emotions to create hundreds of others.
Its inventors say it could be used as a digital assistant for smartphones - or even as a more lifelike equivalent to the commonly used emoticons.
For example, users could write the text message 'I'm going to be late' and ask the computer to set the emotion to frustrated.
Their friend would then receive a message with the computerised face repeating saying it in a frustrated way. Future generations of the technology could even be personalised with users' own faces and voices.
It is hoped that the technology will also be used to help autistic and deaf children to read emotions and lip-read.
Researchers say the face is the most expressive controllable avatar ever created - replicating human emotions with unprecedented realism.
'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,' said Cambridge engineering professor Roberto Cipolla.
He added, 'In the future, we will be able to open up computing to far more people if they can speak and gesture to machines in a more natural way.
The researchers created mathematical algorithms which gave them the voice and image data they needed to recreate expressions on the digital face from text alone.
Zoe's voice has six basic settings - happy, sad, tender, angry, afraid and neutral.
The user can adjust these settings to different levels, as well as altering the pitch, speed and depth of the voice.
By combining the levels it is possible to create a practically infinite amount of emotional reactions.