Ever wondered if you look happily disgusted? Or sadly angry? There may be an app for that.
US researchers have uncovered a way for computers to recognise 21 distinct and often complex facial expressions, in what is being hailed as a breakthrough in the field of cognitive analysis.
A team from Ohio State University devised a way for computers to pinpoint more than triple the number of documented facial expressions than currently can be detected.
"We've gone beyond facial expressions for simple emotions like 'happy' or 'sad.' We found a strong consistency in how people move their facial muscles to express 21 categories of emotions," said Aleix Martinez, a cognitive scientist and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State.
"That is simply stunning. That tells us that these 21 emotions are expressed in the same way by nearly everyone, at least in our culture."
The research, detailed in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could eventually aid the diagnosis and treatment of mental conditions such as autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Until now, cognitive scientists have limited their studies to tracking six basic emotions - happy, sad, fearful, angry, surprised and disgusted.
However, Ohio researchers have been able to vastly increase the range of detectable emotions after photographing the responses of 230 volunteers to verbal cues.