By Daniel Emery

The rise of face recognition technology

Imagine if you could use computer analysis to tell if a consumer really liked your product – despite what they were saying.

Or if you could assess how your brand made them feel with a simple facial recognition app.

Reading expressions is something many people pride themselves on. Poker players and professional negotiators being among them.

But is it an exact science?

It would seem so. Leading universities are studying face reading. And brands are investing in facial recognition software – like Honda which hopes to develop a talking car that can empathise with the driver’s emotions.

Facial recognition is taking off in a big way.

Just last month Facebook acquired FacioMetrics, making it possible in the future to add an emoji to social media posts just by showing a reaction on your face.

Apple this year purchased Emotient, founded by six PhD holders from the University of California. Oxford University has its own facial coding company Realeyes.

It seems brands don’t trust verbal communication alone when it comes to knowing what people like. Picture recognition eliminates the chance for them to lie.

Considering the polite nature of Brits in particular, a face scanner is a more trusted method of discovering whether people say what they really mean.

And social media has played a big part in diluting the term “like”, since everyone can like something with the click of a button – but they’re often doing so to express friendship or solidarity.

CrowdEmotion is a company which works for BBC drama and documentary directors.

Consenting viewers are watched via a laptop webcam as they peruse previews of programmes. Facial reactions and eye movement are recorded and examined by an artificial intelligence algorithm developed at Nottingham University. This is subtle enough to distinguish between a genuine and a fake smile.

It tells the BBC what content goes down better with the viewing public, and can help with the editing process.

But not everyone is looking for the same thing. Nature documentary makers are seeking fear – which reveals viewers care about the animals being stalked by predators.

And likewise, focus groups may say they hate a popular show which they know is not cool – but their face reveals it’s a guilty pleasure.

For any firm using technology to give them feedback on their product or brand, a facial recognition system takes that to the next level.

And privacy need not be an issue with this marketing innovation, since focus groups can remain anonymous.

But the sky’s the limit. Workplaces may be optimised for better productivity and mental wellbeing.

Picture recognition is the future. As the saying goes “The camera never lies”.

Now that camera can analyse every facial nuance, neither can you.

 

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