Microsoft’s Project Oxford Can Now Detect Emotions In Photos

Humans have traditionally been very good at recognizing emotions on people’s faces, but computers? Not so much. That is, until now. Recent advances in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence are allowing computer scientists to create smarter apps that can identify things like sounds, words, images – and even facial expressions.

Project Oxford, the Microsoft research project that can tell how old you are from a photograph, now claims it can read more from your face. Like your emotional state.

Microsoft says Project Oxford, which can already determine your age by looking at your photo, can now also read your emotional state. The company says that Project Oxford, among other things, can identify the following qualities: anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, or even the “neutral” state.

Microsoft's Project Oxford Can Now Detect Emotions In Photos

Chris Bishop, head of Microsoft Research Cambridge in the United Kingdom, announced the update at the Future Decoded conference in the UK. He also demonstrated several new capabilities for speech recognition, which as it says, can identify the person speaking in a noisy environment, like a stadium. But perhaps the biggest attraction was Project Oxford’s ability to look at a picture and tell how a person is feeling, and identify their emotion.

Microsoft unveiled Project Oxford earlier this year at its Build event. Project Oxford utilises machine learning and the computing power from company’s data centers to do the processing. The idea is to help developers do a range of interesting things that might not be possible otherwise. The company has made the emotion tool available to developers as a public beta.

Ryan Galgon, ‎Senior Program Manager at Microsoft Technology and Research – ‎Microsoft wrote in a company blog post “Developers might want to use these tools to create systems that marketers can use to gauge people’s reaction to a store display, movie or food. Or, they might find them valuable for creating a consumer tool, such as a messaging app, that offers up different options based on what emotion it recognizes in a photo.”

Microsoft's Project Oxford Can Now Detect Emotions In Photos

The facial recognition technology that is part of Microsoft Project Oxford also can be used in plenty of other ways, such as grouping collections of photos based on the faces of people that appear in them.

Earlier this year, Microsoft launched How Old website, to showcase the progress it has made in the field of machine learning with its new face detection APIs. On the website, users uploaded their images and Microsoft’s engine was able to detect the age.

The emotion tool is available to developers as a public beta beginning today. In addition, Microsoft is releasing public beta versions of several other new tools by the end of the year. The tools are available for a limited free trial.
The company has also showcased a video editing tool that can automatically clip things and fix the stabilisation and other annoying aspects from your videos. It also talked about a smart spell-checking tool that can be more efficiently updated.

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