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A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate (Representational image). VOA

Real and fake smiles can be tricky to distinguish, but researchers have now developed a computer software that can spot false facial expressions.

By analysing the movement of the smile across a person’s face, the software can determine whether or not the expression is genuine, said the study published in journal Advanced Engineering Informatics.


The most significant movements detected by the software were around the eyes, supporting popular theories that a spontaneous, genuine smile is one that can be seen in a person’s eyes.

“Techniques for analysing human facial expressions have advanced dramatically in recent years, but distinguishing between genuine and posed smiles remains a challenge because humans are not good at picking up the relevant cues,” said study lead author Hassan Ugail, Professor at University of Bradford in the UK.

The software works by first mapping a person’s face from within a video recording, and identifying the mouth, cheeks and eyes of the subject.

It then measures how these facial features move through the progress of the smile and calculates the differences in movement between the video clips showing real and fake smiles.


Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. (Representational image). VOA

Researchers tested the programme using two different datasets, one containing images of people expressing genuine smiles, and another in which the images portrayed posed smiles.

They found significant differences in the way the subjects’ mouths and cheeks moved when comparing the real and the fake expressions. The movements around the subjects’ eyes, however, showed the most striking variation, with genuine smiles generating at least 10 per cent more movement in these muscles.

“We use two main sets of muscles when we smile — the zygomaticus major, which is responsible for the curling upwards of the mouth, and the orbicularis oculi, which causes crinkling around our eyes,” Ugail said.

Also Read: Microsoft Acquires Data Privacy, Governance Service BlueTalon

According to the researchers, in fake smiles it is often only the mouth muscles which move but, as humans, we often don’t spot the lack of movement around the eyes. The computer software can spot this much more reliably.

“An objective way of analysing whether or not a smile is genuine could help us develop improved interactions between computers and humans — for example in biometric identification,” he added. (IANS)


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NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)


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