Asking image processing algorithms to recognize faces is nothing new; the software powering our smartphones’ cameras pulls off that kind of thing without breaking a sweat. And modern algorithms have pushed these systems further and further, allowing them to identify specific people, and even taking a stab at guessing their age. Today Microsoft shares word of an effort that brings a much more human component to this kind of processing, as it reveals its next round of Project Oxford software tools for developers, now capable of recognizing emotional states.

Based on a user’s facial expression, Project Oxford can attempt to identify contempt, fear, disgust, anger, sadness, surprise, happiness, or purely neutral looks.

How will devs use this ability? Well, that’s up to them, but maybe a music app could tap into your phone’s front-facing camera and attempt to use your emotional state to recommend appropriate songs. Or perhaps a navigation app could sense when you’re looking frustrated and recommend a less congested route.

In addition to the emotional recognition tools, Project Oxford picks up improved gender and age detection, smile prediction, and the ability to recognize facial hair. Microsoft’s making it all available to devs as part of a public beta.

Source: Microsoft

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