Binghamton University

Spontaneous Facial Expression Databases

Posted by Fabiola from Binghamton UniversityResponsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · United States

Summary of the technology

Spontaneous facial expression were induced through well-validated methods to elicit expressions of emotion. Facial features were tracked in both 2D and 3D domains and in a diverse array of subjects.

Binghamton University

Description of the technology


Emotions are complex responses to significant internal and external events. They are states of feeling that result in physical and psychological changes that influence our behavior. One behavioral change is facial expression, which has been studied extensively over the past few decades. Facial expression varies with a person’s emotions according to differences in terms of culture, personality, age, context, and environment, and it is central to the human experience.

Currently, most approaches to automatic facial expression analysis attempt to recognize a set of prototypic emotional expressions (e.g., anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise), however efficient and valid measurement of these expressions is a challenge. Many studies about emotion use “acting” or “emotion portrayals” in a restricted sense by recording subjects who are expressing emotions instructed by scripts, resulting in posed and exaggerated facial actions that may occur only rarely in daily life.

Technology Overview

To address the need for a well-annotated, dynamic 3D video of spontaneous facial behavior in response to meaningful and varied emotion inductions, Binghamton University researchers have developed several 3D databases, including a synchronized multimodal dataset, for the community of researchers in automated facial expression analysis. Yin’s group used a series of effective tasks for authentic emotion induction. The tasks include social interviews between previously unacquainted people (one a naïve subject and the other a professional actor/director), pre-designed activities (e.g., games), viewing of film clips, a cold pressor test to elicit pain, social challenge to elicit anger followed by reparation, and olfactory stimulation to elicit disgust. Well-experienced, certified FACS coders annotated the video. Additionally, person-specific and generic face tracking was performed. The new 3D spontaneous dynamic facial expression database is the first of its kind and intended for use in the research community.

In addition to facial 3D expression analysis, thermal (infrared) sensing, electrical conductivity, respiration, blood pressure, heart rate, and brain activity (through an electroencephalogram) may be analyzed to further comprehend emotional behavior associated with facial expressions.


  • Induced emotional responses were spontaneous instead of posed, making the database more relevant for research.
  • Databases include facial expression and corresponding physiological measurements.
  • Physical features were tracked in both 2D and 3D domains using person-specific and generic approaches.
  • Participants are diverse across age and ethnicity.


  • Digital animation
  • Facial recognition
  • Security
  • Biometrics
  • Telehealth
  • Counseling

Current development status

Commercially available technologies

Technology Owner

Binghamton University

Technology Transfer Office

Related keywords

  • Digital Systems, Digital Representation
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Data Protection, Storage Technology, Cryptography, Data Security
  • Imaging, Image Processing, Pattern Recognition
  • Environmental and Biometrics Sensors, Actuators
  • Network Technology, Network Security
  • Security systems
  • E-Health
  • Cyber Security
  • Computer related
  • Computer Graphics Related
  • Graphics software
  • 3D
  • Scanning Related
  • telehealth
  • digital
  • digital animation
  • facial recognition
  • counseling

About Binghamton University

Technology Transfer Office from United States

The best public university in the Northeast.

A world-class institution, Binghamton University offers students a broad, interdisciplinary education with an international perspective and one of the most vibrant research programs in the nation.

Ranked among the elite public universities in the country, Binghamton challenges students academically, not financially, in its unique, best-of-both-worlds environment.

Our academic culture rivals a first-rate private university — rigorous, collaborative and boldly innovative — while our campus culture exemplifies the best kind of public university experience: richly diverse students, active social life and deep engagement with the community.

Our students, both undergraduate and graduate, work one-on-one with an exceptional faculty and groundbreaking scholars. They take advantage of special academic opportunities like combined degrees, foreign language study groups and an unparalleled international education program.

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