Cambridge University scientists are to demonstrate an “emotionally aware” computer, with software designed to read human thoughts by analysing facial expressions.
The new technology will be unveiled at the Royal Society’s summer science exhibition next month, where visitors will be invited to help refine the computer’s ability to identify what people are thinking.
The computer program works by locating and tracking 24 facial “feature points” such as the edge of the nose, the eyebrows and the corners of the mouth, through a camera.
Its analysis is based on combinations of 20 key facial movements that are identified with underlying emotions. The system has been “trained” using the facial expressions of actors.
Computer technology professor Peter Robinson said emotionally aware computers could have commercial uses. “Imagine a computer that could pick the right emotional moment to try to sell you something, a future where mobile phones, cars and websites could read our mind and react to our moods,” he said.
“Our research could enable websites to tailor advertising or products to your mood,” he added.