Facial expression analysis

Facial expression analysis and emotion data allow researchers to gain insights in complex human behaviors in greater depth.

Facial expressions and emotions

Emotions are an important aspect of human life. They instinctively influence our behaviors and decisions. Our face is often the best indicator for this, as our facial expressions convey emotions without saying a word and can be observed by others.

Facial expressions are created with the help of muscle movements beneath the skin of the face. For researchers, emotions are fundamental in understanding human behavior, as they are a crucial part of non-verbal communication and a rich source of social signals.

To gain accurate and reliable data about facial expressions, FaceReader is the most robust automated system that will help you out.

  • Clear insights into the effect of different stimuli on emotions

  • Very easy to use: save valuable time and resources

  • Easy integration with eye tracking data and physiology data


Facial expression analysis with FaceReader

FaceReader is the most robust automated system for the recognition of a number of specific properties in facial images, including the six basic or universal expressions: happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, and disgusted. Paul Ekman described these emotional categories as the basic or universal emotions. 

Additionally, FaceReader can recognize a neutral state and analyze contempt. The software also calculates Action Units, valence, arousal, gaze direction, head orientation, and personal characteristics such as gender and age.


Customer quote

"FaceReader is an excellent tool that we regularly use in our lab."

Dr. W. Hedgcock|University of Minnesota, USA


Measure emotions accurately

FaceReader software is fast, flexible, accurate, and easy to use. It immediately analyzes your data (live, video, or still images), saving valuable time. 

The option to record audio as well as video makes it possible to hear what people have been saying – for example, during human-computer interactions or while watching a movie.

FaceReader is used at over 1,000 sites worldwide. FaceReader 9 is 96% to 100% accurate, depending on which emotion is measured. These accuracy rates were measured by comparing FaceReader outcomes with manual scores by professional annotators.

Discover some facts about FaceReader and automated facial expression analysis.

Facial expression analysis with FaceReader

Customer quote

FaceReader is used in nearly 1,800 publications. Get your free trial to try it out!


Classifying facial expressions

FaceReader’s main output is a classification of your participant's facial expressions. These results are visualized in line charts, bar graphs, or pie charts, which shows a percentage for each emotion.

This video shows the realtime modeling capabilities of FaceReader. Based on the model, FaceReader can classify facial expressions and action units. Moreover, the level of arousal and the valence of the expressions can be visualized in the Circumplex model.


Classifying facial expressions


Circumplex model of affect

The circumplex model of affect describes the distribution of emotions in a 2D circular space, containing arousal and valence dimensions. 

FaceReader offers a realtime representation of this model with the horizontal axis representing the valence dimension (pleasant - unpleasant) and the vertical axis representing the arousal dimension (active - inactive). 

Facial expressions automatically measured with FaceReader can be represented at any level of valence and arousal. Circumplex models are commonly used to assess liking in marketing, consumer science, and psychology (Russell, J. A. (1980). A circumplex model of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39 (6), 1161).


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FaceReader Methodology

FaceReader can detect facial expressions and offers a number of extra classifications. Do you want to learn more about how FaceReader works? Read on!

Best practices FaceReader Online

Do you want to know how FaceReader Online - our online facial expression analysis service - can benefit your UX and market research? Read on!

How to build an AV Lab

An audiovisual lab is designed to observe your test participants unobtrusively. Do you want to learn more how to set up an AV lab? Read on!


Facial expression analysis with FaceReader

Integrating FaceReader

Need to easily integrate facial expression analysis into other applications? Using the FaceReader Software Development Kit (SDK) is the perfect solution. The SDK is available on request, based on a separate agreement. It works for Windows and Android, and can run on your PC or server.

Additionally, we developed a FaceReader Application Programming Interface (API) to serve as an interface and to facilitate integration with the standard FaceReader for Windows software. This enables (limited) access to FaceReader functionality on the PC you are using.


FaceReader demonstration: What does your face say?

Curious about what emotions your own face shows? In this online demo, a person's facial expression is automatically classified from a single picture. Additionally, FaceReader is capable of extracting some personal characteristics, like gender, facial hair, an age indication, and whether a person is wearing glasses. 

This online demonstration lets you analyze images containing a face, by entering an URL or uploading a file.