Obama or Romney? Face-reading software monitors viewers’ responses to debate

November 5, 2012

New Scientist asked readers to take part in an online project designed to give a more fine-grained view of the public’s reactions to politics.

About 80 readers watched clips from the third and final presidential debate while face-reading software recorded subtle emotional cues via webcams. Developed by Affectiva of Waltham, Massachusetts, the software tracked six categories of expression: smiles, surprise, confusion or dislike, disgust, attention, and valence, a general measure of how positively or negatively the viewer reacted to the clips.

An interactive graph allows you to explore readers’ responses to the final debate.

Such information could one day be used by pundits to assess reactions to debates and attack ads, or by the candidates themselves to tailor their messages and even their body language.