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Real life or Black Mirror? Facebook is developing selfie filters that can read your emotions

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The tech giant has written a public patent stating the company's desire to create emotion-reading selfie 'masks'

Anna Freeman

02 Julio 2018 14:26

Facebook is now trying even harder to overtake our personal lives: it has filed a patent for ‘emotion-detecting’ selfie filters. Creepy, right?

A public patent shows that the tech giant is looking to launch a form of technology that can detect users’ emotions and automatically choose an animated selfie based on a person’s emotional state. We have officially moved into Black Mirror territory.

According to Mashable, the patent was originally filed back in 2016, but was only made public last Thursday. The patent describes a system for ‘identifying an emotion and selecting, based on the emotion, a mask from a set of masks’. Facebook uses the word ‘mask’ for the selfie filters that add animations to users’ faces.

Facebook says that its machine learning systems can determine emotions based on the users’ facial features. The patent explains: ‘If the app detects happiness, for example, it could bring up a mask named “happy panda”, [While] the emotion “surprise” [maps] to a mask named “surprised eyes”, the emotion “anger” to a mask named “angry bird”, and the emotion “sadness” to a mask named “gushing tears”.’

Because manually finding an emoji or filter is too difficult, apparently. The patent also explains that there are other kinds of image recognition too and the mask can be changed based on location, profile data or even the content of an image itself.

‘For example, if a user is at a zoo looking at a panda and a digital photograph is taken of his or her face having a happy expression,’ the patent stated, ‘Then a happy panda face mask may be selected for the user based on the user’s happy expression and the input image of the panda detected by a camera (e.g., a camera on the user’s smartphone) in the background behind the user’s face.’

‘If the input image depicts a heart-shape, such as that made by two hands touching at the fingertips and palms, with the fingertips below the knuckles, then the emotion “likes” or “feeling loved” may be identified,’ the company wrote.

Although it is just a patent right now and there is no guarantee that the idea will come to fruition, it would seem like an apt move for Facebook. As the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light, in which the firm was in crisis over data sharing and election meddling, it should come as no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg's team are trying to read our emotions - perhaps even before we have ourselves.

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