Microsoft's newest research tool identifies emotions

Back in April, Microsoft inspired a brief but amusing spat of jokes with the introduction of its "How Old" age estimator. Now the company is back with a similar tool, only it analyzes a person's face to guess their emotion rather than their age. As with the age estimator, the company has made a public demo available for anyone who wants to try it, but it is a little more involved than the age estimator, providing some concise data on the analyzed photo.

The emotion recognition system is part of Microsoft's Project Oxford; you can try it out for yourself here. You can upload a JPEG, GIF, PNG, or BMP under 4MB in size. Says Microsoft, using a near-frontal or full-frontal facial picture will yield the best result. An image of multiple people can be used, assuming it has no more than 64 faces total.

The technology could have any number of uses, most of them revolving around research efforts. If you're a comedian, for example, you could use emotion-analyzing technology to see what jokes are a hit, and which to avoid. That's only a small piece of the different way developers and research firms, among others, could use the technology.

A quick test of the tool using different images from the Internet shows that it is pretty accurate, something due in part to assigning values to various emotions, rather than selecting only one. If you find this interesting, Microsoft has some other tools available, such as its face verification demo for verifying that two photos show the same individual.