Affectiva’s software developed out of the work of Rana El Kaliouby, a former research scientist at MIT’s Media Lab who had been studying ways of using technology to connect distant people on an emotional level. She has worked on identifying the subtle cues that appear in 24 “landmarks” on the face. She and her colleagues then trained a computer to recognize changes in face shape—like furrowed brows—that more commonly occur in response to an emotion.

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