What does that pout really mean? Soon you could be asking your PC for the answer.
A group of psychologists at the Salk Insititute and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are programming a computer with a 20 year old code that describes 44 facial expressions.
The code, developed by Paul Ekman in the 1970s is widely used by psychologists to learn about human emotions. If the researchers succeed the programme will go way beyond the psychologist?s consulting room and could further humanise computers. Parents could use it to understand their children and doctors assess patients? moods. It could even be used as a lie detector.
To introduce Ekman's code to the computer, Cohn has played video clips of his assistant, wrinkling her nose in disgust or widening her mouth and eyes in surprise, among a series of expressions. The computer searches for changes in lines and shadows on a series of blocks on the face.
The programme, however, is several years away from hitting the commerical world. The researchers still need to work out how the programme can account for other variables such as light, colour and individual head movements.
It is estimated that the finished programme will be able to ?read? a facial expression in a minute. To put this in perspective it takes a trained psychologist around ten hours to analyse one minute of facial expression.
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