Business

Your computer knows what you’re thinking — and soon, advertisers will too

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Watching someone in conversation, you can usually tell when they lose interest, get confused or excited. But computers have a hard time telling a smile from a smirk.

After examining thousands of faces from around the world, a Waltham start-up has figured out how to interpret these subtle shifts in expression in real-time. By reading tiny movements in the corners of the mouth and eyes and the shifting angles of the eyebrows, Affectiva can digitally decode facial messages – more effectively, they say, than others have before.

The company’s facial coding product, Affdex, has been used by advertisers, including Coca Cola and Unilever, to gauge a consumer’s reaction to their commercials--one-fourteenth-of-a-second at a time. And on Friday(8/16) Affectiva released a beta version of Affdex for mobile devices, so companies will be able to get the same kind of feedback from cameras on consumer’s smartphones and tablets – with their permission, of course.

Affectiva hopes the new platform will help broaden its customer base to include companies in the mobile gaming, online education, or health-tracking businesses--virtually any field where an app developer wants feedback.

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