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Emotion recognition software knows you want ice cream

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Dutch researchers Theo Gevers and Nicu Sebe, known mostly for their work deciphering the Mona Lisa's smile, have created a face recognition system which can gauge a person's level of happiness. The scientists, working with the multinational goods-manufacturer Unilever, created a face-tracking algorithm which maps video of a subject's face into 3D regions, and then uses those regions to determine their level of pleasure. The tests followed European women's reactions to eating five different foods: vanilla ice cream, chocolate, cereal bars, yogurt and apples. Unsurprisingly, the scientists discovered that women enjoyed eating ice cream and chocolate far more than an apple or yogurt -- the latter even evoking "sad" expressions from 28% of test subjects. Unilever hopes to put the technology to work in creating products such as reduced-fat ice creams which elicit the same response as their full-fat counterparts, while the researchers will be launching a consumer version of the software sometime in August, as well as a website to analyze up to 1,000 user-provided photos daily.

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