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Dear incredible community, I am once again in need of your help.

Summary: Looking for a tool to analyze participant's webcam feed to produce a report of facial expressions - it does not have to be real-time.

I am trying to pitch remote usability testing (as opposed to lab testing) to my boss, and am looking for a tool to overcome our inability to observe nonverbal communication.

What I am looking for is a tool that will analyze the participant's webcam feed to produce a report of facial expressions - it does not have to be real-time.

I am thinking that we could use this report as "bookmarks", using distinct expressions as a sign of positive/negative reaction to the interface to produce a list of interactions that are working well for us, or in need of change.

I found this list of APIs, but non of the websites provided all the information I required (I did contact several of them, and am waiting for a reply).

Does anyone have any experience with such a tool and could recommend it?

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2 Answers 2

I personally dont have experience with a tool but a quick google search turned up a number of tools namely

  1. Face Reader by Noldus
  2. Affdex Facial coding
  3. Facet Vision

Here is an analysis of how effective facereader is

FaceReader constructs a model of the face from the video and automatically evaluate several elementary facial movements (action units). Based on these movements it calculates the likeliness that each of six basic emotions (joy, anger, sadness, surprise, fear and disgust) is felt at any given time. Tests from the provider of the software indicate a success rate of up to 90% with frontal face images.

Weaknesses Data limited to six basic emotions.

The video has to be captured during a test with a real product, limiting the usefulness of FaceReader in the early stages of the design process.

That said, facial expression analysis is not a refined science and your experience might be more of a hit or a miss. To quote this article

EmoVision dashboard is one of the possibilities of facial recognition for analyzing purposes. People can be sad and puzzled, neutral and happy, even surprised. This kind of software recognizes the subject`s emotions and lets us analyze them further. It will also generate a suitable graph.

FaceReader dashboard is useful on measuring overall emotional Intensity on scale of 0 to 1, but often enough a lot of emotions are going on at the same time and the software can only detect the strongest of them. The problem with these kinds of applications is that they are not ready yet.

During measurements, the subjects need to be completely still and must not talk or move their head. Facial touching is generally not allowed and this method does not work well with glasses. It requires more lighting and only recognizes the simplest and strongest of emotions. Subtle emotions are ignored.

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Not answering the question but a bit of background psychology:

It's worth bearing in mind that there are learnt social rules which vary with cultures on whether people 'display' their emotions:

These are known as Display Rules

One of the bottom lines of this is that people's expressed emotions may vary if they think they are in a 'social context' (ie being observed)

Paul Ekman did quite a lot of work on this, particularly on the issue of how the rules vary between cultures.

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That's an interesting point to definitely consider when conducting international studies. From the little I know, there is a cross-culture baseline for most common expressions, how distinct the expression is, however, will vary between cultures. Interesting enough, a blind person uses the same facial expressions as a sighted one!. Thank you for the link! I'll look into it. –  Nir Bentia Feb 10 at 13:28

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