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Microsoft's Project Oxford Uses Algorithms to Detect Emotion in Photos

Computers cannot emote, and I'm not entirely sure I want to live in a world where they do, but evidently what they can do, or at least try to do, is figure out what you're feeling. Off the back of an age guessing program which came out earlier this year, Microsoft have unveiled 'Project Oxford', which can purportedly read the emotion in people's faces.

You can try it here, but in short, it will detect where the faces appear in a given image and then split a 1.0 score across the different emotions the face might convey, the options being anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness and surprise.

Some scores will be scattered between most or all of the options, whilst others might give one emotion a perfect score. I obviously have a very difficult face for this process, since basically every image of myself I put through the system came back with a broad spread of emotional readings, with 'neutral' being the most common. I'm not sure whether or not I should be offended by that.

I was really happy when this was taken, get it together, Microsoft
As you might expect, it works best when the emotion being conveyed is blatant, like a huge grin or a gape, meaning that happiness and surprise tend to score perfectly more often, whereas harder to read emotions like disgust or contempt rarely rate above 0.5. In my case, I don't think I encountered even one emotional read that was correct about what I'd been feeling at the time the photo was taken. I guess my face is just difficult to figure out. Maybe I should start playing poker.

Microsoft are obviously fairly proud of this tool, as they've started referring to it as 'Emotion API' and boasting of the 'world class machine-learning techniques' which make it tick. It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that, with a little polish, this feature could work for digital marketing purposes, but if Facebook got their grubby hands on it, photo collage tools that use emotions as a centerpiece could be another potential use. For now though, it's just a curious little distraction. I've taken to putting people with characteristically weird faces through it in the hopes of breaking the system, Christopher Walken, Nicholas Cage and so forth.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Microsoft's Project Oxford Uses Algorithms to Detect Emotion in Photos Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 Rating: 5

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