German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen have developed software that can identify human faces in an image and then analyse their expressions.
'The special feature of our facial analysis software is that it operates in real time,' said Dr Christian Küblbeck, project manager at the IIS. 'What’s more, it is able to localise and analyse a large number of faces simultaneously.'
Initially, the system goes through a training phase in which it is presented with huge quantities of data containing images of faces. In normal operation, the computer then compares 30,000 facial characteristics with the information that it has previously learned.
The most important facial characteristics used by the system are the contours of the face, the eyes, the eyebrows and the nose.
'On a standard PC, the calculations are carried out so quickly that mood changes can be tracked live,' explained Küblbeck.
The researchers say that the software package could be used to test the user-friendliness of computer software programs. In use, the system could monitor the facial expressions of a user to determine which aspects of a program arouse a particularly strong reaction.
Alternatively, it could assess the reactions of users when they are learning how to use software to establish the extent to which they are put under stress or challenged by the tasks that they are performing.
Image analysis software can immediately identify whether a person in an image is male or female and what kind of mood they are in
A demonstration version of the face detection and analysis software package is available for download at: