George Takei Presents on YouTube // Microsoft's Project Oxford
George Takei Presents on YouTube // Microsoft's Project Oxford

Microsoft's Emotion Recognition Software Quantifies Feelings Based on Expressions

George Takei Presents on YouTube // Microsoft's Project Oxford
George Takei Presents on YouTube // Microsoft's Project Oxford

Can you tell how someone is feeling just by looking at their face? Microsoft's Project Oxford team has developed an experimental tool that it says can detect a person's emotional state just by analyzing a photo of his/her expression. Each emotion is given a decimal value to five places, which together equal .99999 and form a numerical representation of complex human feelings.

The emotions that the API claims to recognize are anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness, and surprise. "These emotions are understood to be cross-culturally and universally communicated with particular facial expressions," reads the MPO website. The tool can recognize and analyze as many as 64 faces in a single image, but it does include the disclaimers that  "frontal and near-frontal faces have the best results" and "recognition is experimental, and not always accurate."

Hyperallergic tested the tool to see how it analyzed the emotions of famous works of art. It found that Mona Lisa's smirk was half happiness and half neutral, and it attributed the expression of Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother (1936) as being mostly neutral with less sadness than the iconic photo actually conveys. Using photos from iStock, YouTube, and Wikimedia Commons, we decided to try the tool for ourselves to see how accurate or inaccurate it could be (note: it does not work on photos of angry cats). Check out the results below, and conduct your own emotional photo experiment on Microsoft's Project Oxford website.


Puddles Pity Party on YouTube // Microsoft's Project Oxford


[h/t Hyperallergic]

Marshall McLuhan, the Man Who Predicted the Internet in 1962

Futurists of the 20th century were prone to some highly optimistic predictions. Theorists thought we might be extending our life spans to 150, working fewer hours, and operating private aircrafts from our homes. No one seemed to imagine we’d be communicating with smiley faces and poop emojis in place of words.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t call that either, but he did come closer than most to imagining our current technology-led environment. In 1962, the author and media theorist, predicted we’d have an internet.

That was the year McLuhan, a professor of English born in Edmonton, Canada on this day in 1911, wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy. In it, he observed that human history could be partitioned into four distinct chapters: The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the then-emerging electronic age. McLuhan believed this new frontier would be home to what he dubbed a “global village”—a space where technology spread information to anyone and everyone.

Computers, McLuhan said, “could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization,” and offer “speedily tailored data.”

McLuhan elaborated on the idea in his 1962 book, Understanding Media, writing:

"Since the inception of the telegraph and radio, the globe has contracted, spatially, into a single large village. Tribalism is our only resource since the electro-magnetic discovery. Moving from print to electronic media we have given up an eye for an ear."

But McLuhan didn’t concern himself solely with the advantages of a network. He cautioned that a surrender to “private manipulation” would limit the scope of our information based on what advertisers and others choose for users to see.

Marshall McLuhan died on December 31, 1980, several years before he was able to witness first-hand how his predictions were coming to fruition.

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Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
The New MacBook Has a Crumb-Resistant Keyboard
Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Soon, you won’t have to worry about ruining your Macbook’s keyboard with muffin crumbs. The 2018 MacBook Pro will feature keys specifically designed to withstand the dust and debris that are bound to get underneath them, according to Digital Trends. The keyboard will also be quieter than previous versions, the company promises.

The latter feature is actually the reasoning Apple gives for the new design, which features a thin piece of silicon stretching across where the keycaps attach to the laptop, but internal documents initially obtained by MacRumors show that the membrane is designed to keep debris from getting into the butterfly switch design that secures the keycaps.

Introduced in 2015, Apple’s butterfly keys—a change from the traditional scissor-style mechanism that the company’s previous keyboards used—allow the MacBook keyboards to be much thinner, but are notoriously delicate. They can easily become inoperable if they’re exposed to dirt and debris, as any laptop is bound to be, and are known for becoming permanently jammed. In fact, the company has been hit with multiple lawsuits alleging that it has known about the persistent problem for years but continued using the design. As a result, Apple now offers free keyboard replacements and repairs for those laptop models.

This new keyboard design (you can see how it works in iFixit's very thorough teardown), however, doesn’t appear to be the liquid-proof keyboard Apple patented in early 2018. So while your new laptop might be safe to eat around, you still have to worry about the inevitable coffee spills.

[h/t Digital Trends]

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