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Innovation

Face-reading software to replace opinion polls

Researchers at MIT's Media Lab have developed software that can read feelings behind facial expressions.
Written by Amy Kraft, Weekend Editor on

Do you have a good poker face? If so, your elusive expression could work for you at the card table, but it might not pass the computer test.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab are working on software that knows what a person is thinking and feeling from reading their facial expressions.

MindReader is a program that can decipher among expressions of sadness, joy, boredom, disgust and excitement to gauge a person's mood. Researchers trained the software to understand various facial expressions by tracking 22 points around the eyes, nose and mouth when shown a short video of a person or a crowd.

Researchers think MindReader could be used to replace opinion polls. And, some say it might even be able to understand you better than you know yourself.

New Scientist reports:

"In tests to appear in the IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, the software proved to be better than humans at telling joyful smiles from frustrated smiles. A commercial version of the system, called Affdex, is now being used to test adverts."

Along with testing public reaction to advertisements, researchers say the program could have profound effects on politics. For example, the program could analyse facial expressions to see how a political speech was received by a crowd or to get an idea of how people feel about a particular candidate.

"I feel like this technology can enable us to give everybody a non-verbal voice, leverage the power of the crowd," el Kaliouby a member of the Media Lab's Affective Computing group told New Scientist.

Face-reading software to judge the mood of the masses

Photo via flickr/Sreejith K

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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