According to the 12-21-2009 CSIRO press release How could Santa know if you’ve been good or bad?, “CSIRO is using automated expression recognition technology to tell whether someone is in pain and, according to computer scientist, CSIRO’s Dr Simon Lucey, there’s no reason why Santa couldn’t train the system to find out who’s been naughty or nice.”
Oh, you better watch out ... Santa knows! He's using high-tech gadgets!
CSIRO senior research scientist Simon Lucey, the lead scientist in the computer project, stated, “Each facial expression is made up of many different components – a twitch of the mouth here, a widening of the eyes there – some lasting only a fraction of a second.”
Dr. Lucey, who is also an assistant research professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.) adds, “Our computer program looks at these components, matches them against a list drawn up by expert psychologists and decides what expression just flitted across a face.”
Although facial expressions may get by the casual human observer, it is much more difficult to fool the CSIRO computer.
The CSIRO scientists have found that regardless of the person—it doesn’t matter where you live and what your background is—we all have the same general types of facial expressions for pain, innocence, lying, nice, and naughty.
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Dr. Lucey states, “There are always some micro expressions that we are unable to control and some of these are associated with deception. It is these tiny facial expression components that the computer can spot.”
The CSIRO article even shows a picture of Santa with Dr. Lucey at the CSIRO research facility in Sydney, Australia. See the picture in the above mentioned CSIRO article.
Lucey adds, “Our expression work is still mostly from front-on, but we’re teaching the system to do what we do and recognise expressions when only one side of the face is visible.”
Besides helping Santa know which children have been naughty or nice over the past year, Dr. Lucey says that the computer technology also helps medical personnel to know how much pain a patient is in if the patient is unable to communicate these feelings.
It is also used to ‘telecollaborate' between people at different locations when they are using video and computers. The technology helps to make visual communications between these people “… more natural by recognising gestures such as someone pointing at an object.”
For additional information on the work of automated expression recognition technology being developed at CSIRO, read the CSIRO article “Smart vision system identifies expressions and analyses behaviour.”
The article begins, “CSIRO is developing self-learning computer vision technology to aid in the diagnosis of medical conditions and to make telecollaboration more natural.”
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), founded in 1926 as the Advisory Council of Science and Industry, is the national government body for scientific research in Australia.