Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Computer tags human emotions

02 April 2014, 10:36

Washington - Ever wondered if you look happily disgusted? Or sadly angry? There may one day be an app for that.

US researchers have uncovered a way for computers to recognise 21 distinct and often complex facial expressions, in what is being hailed as a breakthrough in the field of cognitive analysis.

A team from Ohio State University devised a way for computers to pinpoint more than triple the number of documented facial expressions than currently can be detected.

"We've gone beyond facial expressions for simple emotions like 'happy' or 'sad'. We found a strong consistency in how people move their facial muscles to express 21 categories of emotions," said Aleix Martinez, a cognitive scientist and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State.

"That is simply stunning. That tells us that these 21 emotions are expressed in the same way by nearly everyone, at least in our culture."

The research, detailed in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could eventually aid the diagnosis and treatment of mental conditions such as autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Until now, cognitive scientists have limited their studies to tracking six basic emotions - happy, sad, fearful, angry, surprised and disgusted.

However, Ohio researchers have been able to vastly increase the range of detectable emotions after photographing the responses of 230 volunteers to verbal cues such as "you just got some great unexpected news" ("happily surprised"), or "you smell a bad odour" ("disgusted").

Painstaking analysis of the resulting 5 000 images allowed researchers to pinpoint variations on prominent landmarks for facial muscles, such as the corners of the mouth or the outer edge of the eyebrow.

The researchers pored over data from the Facial Action Coding System or Facs, a standard tool in body language analysis, checking for similarities and differences in expressions.

As a result they were able to uncover 21 emotions - the six basic emotions - plus "compound emotions" which were a combination.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Man who attacked US Embassy a 24 ...

A man who attacked the US Embassy in Nairobi was a 24 year old from Wajir County. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
US Embassy to remain closed Frida...

The US Embassy in Nairobi will remain closed Friday following a terror attack on it Thursday. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Leave ODM if you are unhappy, Rai...

Leave ODM if you are not happy, Raila Odinga tells Senator. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Former Assistant Minister joins J...

A former Assistant Minister has quit PNU and joined the Jubilee Party. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
DP Ruto intervenes as Kerio Valle...

DP William Ruto will visit Kerio Valley to try solve never-ending clashes between local residents. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM MP chased down by angry Kibra...

Kibra MP Ken Okoth had a hard time in his constituency after angry youth pelted him with stones. Read more...