Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

Machine Vision and Your Face

The Facial Action Coding System is a comprehensive inventory of the muscles and their movements that form frowns, glares, grimaces, and smiles
Adapted from a montage created by Dr. P. Vanger, Center for Psychotherapy Research, Stuttgart, Germany
Figure 1. Humans create about 5,000 unique expressions; most seemingly transcend nationality, race, cultural and societal upbringing.
Patrick J. Lynch, North Haven, Conn.
Figure 2. Human faces contain between 40 and 90 distinct muscles. Anatomists deviate on an exact number because many muscles are extremely small and have overlapping fiber bundles.
Figure 3. A mosaic made up of hundreds of facial expressions, showing the rich reportoire of human expressions.

By Lee J. Nelson
Contributing Editor

While science and law enforcement continue to search for the perfect lie detector, a glimpse into emotions and motivations, gained via the face, may have to suffice. Meanwhile, others have made careers in entertainment by understanding microexpressions. Witness the aptly demonstrated talents of “Honest Liar,” Jamy Ian Swiss (San Diego, Calif.).

Swiss routinely explores “the deepest recesses of deception, be it cheating and crooked gambling, con men and scam artists, lying and lie detection, or phony psychics and the illusion of psychic powers.” In his performances, he rejects any claim of paranormal abilities while deftly illustrating them all—clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, telepathy. Whether a quick take of audience members’ microexpressions underpins his deception and uncanny lie detection aptitude, Swiss will not say. He simply recites a quotation from a fellow artiste: “I have found that if one wants to create the impression of great skill, it is advantageous actually to possess great skill.”

The truth always is present in some form. Trying to control one’s facial muscles can send mixed signals, leading others to be unsure about causal intentions. Changing how we feel, inside, alters our expression on the outside. Thus, even the best liars eventually give themselves away. AI

Contributing Editor and industry analyst, Lee J. Nelson, is at the forefront of emerging as well as evolving technologies for compute-intensive imaging applications. Contact him at: 1-703-893-0744, or

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