MIT’s Technology Review has an article about efforts by Sheryl Brahnam, an information scientist at Missouri State University at Springfield, to develop software to read infants’ faces for signs of pain.
From the article:
Brahnam’s system, called Classification of Pain Expressions (COPE), uses facial-recognition techniques to extract and examine features of the baby’s expression, such as how scrunched up the eyes are, the angle of the mouth, and the furrow of the brow.
The system relies on a neural-network learning algorithm that has been trained on a database of 204 photographic images of 26 different infants. Of these, 60 showed the babies in pain. These photos were taken during a standard heel prick–a procedure used to draw blood that is widely acknowledged to be painful. The rest of the images were taken when the infants were pulling very similar facial expressions, but this time they had not been stimulated by pain. The latter images were obtained using other stimuli such as blowing gently on the babies’ faces. “And rubbing their heel causes their face to scrunch up,” says Brahnam.
Preliminary tests showed that the system was more than 90 percent accurate.