Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 11:40AM
New biometric technology research out of Concordia University may prove useful in recognizing mood via facial features in public and highly-trafficked areas, such as airports and train stations. The system may also have implications on homeland security technology used to observe suspicious behaviors and characters.
Prabir Bhattacharya, a professor at Concordia's Institute for Information Systems Engineering, "has developed a computer image processing system capable of classifying human facial expressions and identifying what emotion a person is conveying."
"Whether certain points like the eyebrows or the lips are expanding or contracting, you can know what sort of emotion they are conveying," Bhattacharya said. In fact, his system is capable of identifying all ten expressions below. While 18 facial features exist to determine mood, his system only requires seven.
As the ITBusiness article states, "The system analyzes a facial expression by first measuring the distance between the eyes. Based on that, it is able to map out other regions of the face and set a template. Then, it can process different markers that give away a person's mood. By focusing on specific groups of muscles near the eyes, nose and mouth, the system determines mood without requiring a full facial profile. That means less data is needed to determine a profile than other types of facial recognition systems."
The big question remains -- what is the value of mood recognition technology in identifying suspicious individuals? While some critics maintain that surveillance is more focused on recognizing one individual versus another and continue to discount the value of identifying a person's mood, others point to its many applications in the security field. According to ITBusiness, the concept has already been utilized by Israeli security forces trained in psychological methods to evaluate mood in order to maintain order in large crowds of people.
Whether deployed at crowded train stations, endless airport security lines, or local banks across the country, mood recognition technology certainly has the potential to supplement current facial recognition technology and make surveillance systems all the more comprehensive.
However, it may be some time before this technology makes it out of the lab and into a video camera near you. Frankly, there just aren't many surveillance cameras that create the kinds of straight-on talking-head-style videos required for this kind of algorithm. Maybe we will first see mood detection in something like the self-check-in kiosks at airports so the airlines can know how we are feeling when we travel. Just remember to smile.