Face-reading machine tells you what to read

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 12:00am


The distance between your facial features can betray your age, according to the creator of a kiosk at this year's Book Fair which is said to be able to make reading recommendations based on such information.

The booth goes a step further than one introduced at last year's fair, which offered recommendations based on answers to questions keyed in by users.

The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), which built the device, says it can determine gender and age with 85 per cent reliability, and make recommendations based on this.

It uses a database of more than 10,000 Asian faces, with each face assigned about 20 points and the distances between them measured and stored.

'For a 40-year-old woman, her eyes will start to tilt downwards. It will shorten the distance between her eye and some other points,' the institute's manager of material and packaging technologies, Crystal Fok Lo-ming, said, adding that 'it is important to have a database ... of Asian faces, as their features are remarkably different from Westerners.'

The institute also included a higher number of younger people in its database as the fair, which will run from July 18 to 24 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, is frequented by children and teenagers. Customers will be able to have a trial read of their recommended books and save selected pages to make a tailor-made electronic book of their own.

While the facial detection technology will make its debut at the fair, it will have wider uses in the coming years, Fok said. By the end of this year, ASTRI, a research and development company, hopes to have finalised a machine that can recognise specific faces, which may change the way consumers access services: by showing their faces instead of a bank or membership card.

Within two years, the company also wants to make a device that can generate three-dimensional models of consumers according to bodily features, enabling fitting of clothes during online shopping, she said.

Another new innovation will be introduced in the fair's e-book zone by Wan Li Book Company.

Deputy editor-in-chief Ian Chan Yin said it would enable readers to flip through e-books in the way they now browse paper books in stores.

'Once users of electronic devices enter the Book Fair venue, they will be allowed full access to dozens of e-books,' he said. Access, through a smartphone or tablet application, will be discontinued once a visitor leaves the exhibition venue.


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