Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Smile! Big Brother software is watching you

Japanese company's "smile checker" software analyzes facial features, provides "smile ratings." No test yet for forced grins.

A Japanese company has developed "smile checker" software that can tell whether someone looks happy, sad or somewhere in between. By analyzing facial features, such as wrinkles around the mouth and eyes and the space between the lips, Omron's new software can spot a smile in less than one tenth of a second and rate it on a scale of zero to 100 percent.

The company envisions the software can be used in digital cameras so a photo can be snapped when everyone is grinning, to help robots figure out if humans are happy, and give "smile ratings" to people working in the service industry. But can the software tell if the smiles are sincere? "(The engineers) said that they've never really tested this, but the percentage rating would probably drop with a forced grin," said Omron spokesman James Seddon.