New facial analysis software has been developed that claims to be able to recognize a person's mood in an instant. It could mean the start of personalised advertising campaigns that can tell how you feel by simply looking at your face.

The 'rapid facial analysis' technology is being developed by researchers at the German Fraunhofer Institute. It uses highly complex software to find a human face in an image, work our whether the face is male or female, and then analyse their expressions.

"The special feature of our facial analysis software is that it operates in real time," says Dr. Christian K�blbeck, project manager at the IIS.

how you feel

The most important facial characteristics used by the system are the contours of the face, the eyes, the eyebrows and the nose.

The system first has to go through a training phase in which it is presented with huge quantities of data containing images of faces.

The computer compares 30,000 facial characteristics with the information that it has previously learned. "On a standard PC, the calculations are carried out so quickly that mood changes can be tracked live," explains K�blbeck.

The software package is not only of interest to advertising psychologists; there are numerous potential applications for the system.

The developers say that it can be used to test the user-friendliness of computer software programs.

The system monitors the facial expressions of the user in order to determine which aspects of the program arouse a particularly strong reaction.

The system could also be used to check the levels of concentration of car drivers.

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