You can't always read a person's thoughts by their expression, but Canberra-based Seeing Machines is having a good try. The firm says its technology will soon realise the long-held dream of retailers and designers alike: how to capture that non-verbal first impression.
Using two cameras to build stereoscopic images of a subject's face, the technology matches them with data on iris movement, pupil contraction, eyebrow movement and lip shape, thus identifying confusion, irritation and other moods.
Swedish carmaker Volvo was so impressed that it funded faceLAB, a dashboard-mounted eye-tracking system monitoring driver alertness. Cameras record frequency of blinks and the straying of the driver's gaze. Even if you're wearing sunglasses or scratching your nose, faceLAB is unfazed - the system consults other facial data to tell you whether you need to take a break. Good for train drivers, pilots, air-traffic controllers and surgeons.