Facial Coding Applications

The potential of facial coding technology is huge considering that it is so easy to implement (webcam-based, no need for controlled location), easy to deploy, scalable, affordable, and since the information is easy to interpret and visualize.

As people around the world watch TV or gaze at their computer screens, marketers might be staring right back, tracking their expressions and analysing their emotions.

BBC, an early adopter, uses webcams and facial coding technology, to track faces as people watch show trailers, to see what kinds of emotions the trailers produced. The broadcasting house has also used the technology to study participant’s reactions to TV programs.

Research firms, GfK’s EMO Scan for instance, use consumers’ own webcams, with their permission, to track their facial expression in real time as they view advertising.

One of the limitations is that some facial expressions vary across cultures, individuals, and even demographics, such as age. Some individuals are expressive, others are impassive. This variance in facial muscle activity is why baselining is often recommended for 5 to 10 seconds at the start of a session.

Due to these reasons, it is problematic to measure the intensity of emotional expressions across different stimuli, individuals or cultures. So, while computer-based facial coding reveals the valence (positive/negative) and class of emotion, it cannot accurately assess emotional arousal (intensity).

One should consider using it in combination with other biometric technologies, such as galvanic skin response, that are able to capture emotional arousal.

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