My, what a big smile you have

Associated Press photos

A woman smiles as she demonstrates Japanese electronics and health-care company Omron Corp.’s Okao Catch, or "face catch," that can measure how big your smile is during a newly opened technology exhibition space TEPIA in Tokyo on April 10.

A robot dog for home assembly, developed by radio-controlled car maker HPI Japan, walks during a press preview of a new technology exhibition space TEPIA in Tokyo on.

My Spoon, a robot arm with utensils at the end, picks up one of wooden pieces kept in a container during a press preview of a new technology exhibition space TEPIA in Tokyo.

By Yuri Kageyama


Associated Press

TOKYO — The breadth of a smile can be measured by new technology from Japanese electronics and health care company Omron Corp.

The software technology, shown recently to reporters, scans a video image to detect faces. It can find up to 100 faces in an image, according to Yasushi Kawamoto of Omron.

"Okao Catch," which means "face catch," then analyzes the curves of the lips, eye movement and other facial characteristics to decide how much a person is smiling using data collected from a million people and their smiles, he said.

In a demonstration, a camcorder took videos of journalists covering the announcement. Percentage numbers indicating how much each person was smiling popped up in bold blue letters next to their faces on a monitor, flashing higher or lower as their expressions changed.

The numbers ranged as high as 89 percent for a person who was grinning, while a somber face registered 0 percent.

Sony Corp. already has a similar Smile Shutter function for its digital cameras which automatically clicks the shutter when people in the image break into a smile.

Kawamoto said Omron hopes to used its technology in the medical field, to assess the emotional state of patients, or pack it in mobile phones.


Okao Catch can also be useful for people who want to perfect their smiles or for robot communication to make it easier for machines to decipher human reactions, according to Omron.

Okao Catch was part of a larger exhibition of new technology opening this week in Tokyo.


Also on display was a robot dog for home assembly from HPI Japan, a maker of radio-controlled cars. The robot is to go on sale worldwide for about $800 later this year.

Far more primitive than Sony’s pricey discontinued robot dog, Aibo, it managed to walk, hop, get back up on its feet and even stand on its head.

My Spoon, a robot arm with utensils at the end, helps disabled people feed themselves by using a joystick controlled by their chin. Tokyo-based Secom Co. said it has sold 250 of the My Spoon kit for about $4,000 each in Japan and Europe.

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