Baby FaceReader at Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium

A few weeks ago, VicarVision crossed the Atlantic and got to show its first validation results for Baby FaceReader at the Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium.

Have you ever wondered what your baby is thinking or feeling? Baby FaceReader automatically measures facial expressions in infants (0-2 years old) to determine just that! The widely used FaceReader software can currently only be used for children from the age of three. VicarVision has been developing Baby FaceReader as part of the Brainview Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Training Network. We are proud to share its first promising validation results!

Example of a child where a few activated action units are scored.

Baby Facereader uses the Baby Facial Action Coding System (Baby FACS), developed by Harriet Oster, the leader in infant expression research. Baby FACS uses notations to describe specific movements of the face. We used a dataset of reliably annotated images from the Baby FACS manual to evaluate the performance of the software. Baby FaceReader showed an average reliability score of 0.60 across facial actions such as Inner Brow Raising (AU1), Brow Knitting and Knotting (AU 3+4), Eye widening (AU5), smiling (AU12), mouth opening (AU25) and others, on well-modelled images. The current standard for assessing reliability of facial expression coding as set by the FACS manual is 0.70, so the current Baby FaceReader results are quite promising!

Overview of reliability scores for each action unit (based on model fit).

Baby FaceReader can have several benefits. Manually coding facial expressions can be a very lengthy and cumbersome procedure (1 minute of video could take up to 1 hour of coding!). Baby FaceReader will eliminate this costly task and allow more time for data analysis in studying infant behavior. With the help of Baby FaceReader you will be able to determine infants’ eating preferences or know whether they are in pain. Finally, as part of the Brainview project, Baby FaceReader will be used to assess risk for developmental disorders such as autism. Do you have an interest in Baby FaceReader, want to discuss further applications, or want to get our most up-to-date results? Contact us at!