New Microsoft Program Can Recognize Emotions

There are a lot of things that we humans can do that machines cannot. One of those is recognizing emotions and acting on them. Well, the rise of the machines just got a little bit closer as Microsoft unveiled a tool that can recognize emotions in pictures.

The Microsoft Project Oxford team announced plans to roll out public beta versions of some new tools that will enable developers to take advantage of these facial expression-reading tools. Chris Bishop, head of Microsoft Research Cambridge, demonstrated use of the tool in a keynote talk at Future Decoded, which is a conference held by Microsoft that focuses on the future of business and technology. The tools are made specially for developers who don’t have machine learning or AI expertise, but are keen on including features like speech, vision and language understanding in their apps. These new developments come off the back of Microsoft’s Project Oxford tools that were unveiled last Spring. Naturally, the project quickly drew interest from big-name Fortune 500 companies to small startups that don’t have the technology on hand to do it themselves.

“The exciting thing has been how much interest there is and how diverse the response is,” said Ryan Galgon, a senior program manager within Microsoft’s Technology and Research group.


That’s cool, I guess. What bothers me about this is that these systems get smarter as they analyze more data. This technology is the basis for real-time translations provided by Skype Translator and Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana. Basically, Skynet. Anyway, Galgon believes that the technology would be useful for developers who want to create systems for marketers to use to gauge public reaction to store displays, movies, food etc. Creeped out yet?

Clearly I fear a Terminator infested world, so I’m a bit on the fence, but this technology does have fun uses. Movember kicked off just about two weeks ago and Microsoft came up with something called MyMoustache, which uses the aforementioned technology to recognize and rate facial hair. So now you can have a computer tell you how awful your patchy beard is.  Watch the video below and check out the release to learn more about the available features.


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