Binghamton University computer scientist Lijun Yin thinks that using a computer should be a comfortable and intuitive experience, like talking to a friend.
As anyone who has ever yelled “Why did you go and do that?” at their PC or Mac will know, however, using a computer is currently sometimes more like talking to an overly-literal government bureaucrat who just doesn’t get you. Thanks to Yin’s work with things like emotion recognition, however, that might be on its way to becoming a thing of the past.
Already, one of his graduate students has given a PowerPoint presentation, in which content on the slides was highlighted via eye-tracking software that monitored the student’s face.
A potentially more revolutionary area of his work, however, involves getting computers to distinguish between human emotions. By obtaining 3D scans of the faces of 100 subjects, Yin and Binghamton psychologist Peter Gerhardstein have created a digital database that includes 2,500 facial expressions. The emotions conveyed by these expressions all fall under the headings of anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. By mapping the differences in the subjects’ faces from emotion to emotion, he is working on creating algorithms that can visually identify not only the six main emotions, but even subtle variations between them.The database is available free of charge to the nonprofit research community.