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Facial Scanning Software That Interprets Emotion To Be Tested on Hundreds of TV Watchers

Testing begins this year.

(Image Source: YouTube)

Do you get angry watching President Obama give a speech, or are you calm and collected? Do you get feelings of happiness watching football, or do you enjoy the commercials more?

This facial-recognition software can tell the difference, and it could be coming to a television near you.

(Image Source: YouTube) Matthew Celuszak, center, gives an expressive facial cue to the web camera that is tracking and interpreting his emotion. (Image source: YouTube)

A test group of 200 participants in the United Kingdom who watch the British Broadcasting Corporation will be given facial coding web cameras that can measure a wide range of expressions such as happiness, anger, fear, anger, surprise, disgust and sadness.

British start-up CrowdEmotion created the technology, and was recently awarded the "Innovators' Innovator" award for the device at the Technology Innovators Forum.

"We capture facial expressions to read emotions, using 20 years of neuroscience," said Matthew Celuszak, the CEO and co-founder of CrowdEmotion. "What's exciting is, for the first time we can actually take emotional understanding and put it in the hands of everybody, simply using their mobile or into their TV technology."

The BBC hopes to extend the tests to global markets for a second research period, ahead of a larger third testing period in even more international territories, according to Gizmodo.

But it sounds like the CrowdEmotion team wants to make it even bigger.

"Using cameras and microphones anywhere, we are able to actually apply this in every sort of realm of life," Celuszak said. "It's the first time of 20 years of neuroscience has been boiled down to machine learning, so that everyone, everywhere can start to understand how their expressions turn into emotions, and how people receive those."

But where will these "cameras and microphones anywhere" be used and applied?

"It can be applied to any area of life where you want to get personal, where you want to humanize a brand, or where you want to understand or diagnose human depression symptoms, or where you want to even talk about safety and security, or understand - say - what criminal intent looks like," Celuszak said.

Are you happy when Glenn Beck, President Barack Obama, a Tea Party representative or an IRS official  is on your television screen? Or are you constantly grimacing at the various political, ethical or religious views expressed?

See where this could lead?

It appears this software has the potential to be the next real "Big Brother" step, if used without someone's permission. But if used with consent, this technology could reveal massive insights into how we really feel at a given moment.

Yep, that was a baby you saw in the video. The snapshots below show the range of emotions captured on the infant's face, and the very different readings the software gave. In the first, the baby clearly appears happy, which matches the readout, but the second shows a similarly pleased face, and the computer interpreted "disgust."

(Image Source: YouTube) Image source: YouTube

(Image Source: YouTube) Image source: YouTube

CrowdEmotion apparently got quite a bit of feedback about the baby showcased in their video, so they published a few clarifying notes about how they accomplished that test, and how they rate their progress.

“Check out the emotional fluctuation - quite drastic compared to adults,” Celuszak said. "Our software is in it’s infancy (no pun intended), so plenty of refinement and testing to be done."

The software will be tested on the BBC beginning this year; a second wave will take place in Russia and Australia, followed by a third in six other international markets, according to the Telegraph.

(H/T: Gizmodo)

Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

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