Logo: University of Southern California

HP Labs Will Support Gérard Medioni's Facial Expression Recognition Technology

Viterbi School Professor to receive 2010 Innovation Research award; Alan Willner's 2008 award renewed again
July 05, 2010 —

Gérard Medioni
Professor Gérard Medioni of the USC Departments of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering will attempt to create "new, reliable, fun, and inexpensive interfaces for human‐computer interaction" as part of the HP Labs Innovation Research Program.

Alan Willner of the Hsieh Department won a second renewal of a 2008 award.

"The technology we propose to develop is a real‐time, efficient and generic facial expression recognition prototype from a basic webcam," says Medioni's research proposal.

The new work will build on technology previously developed by Medioni's lab, composed of two modules. "The first one estimates the 3D head pose and facial deformations, and the other classifies and describes expressions, using a non-linear manifold learning process."

While the existing technique is effective, accurately recognizing eight expressions (surprise, anger, joy, disgust, sadness, eyes blinking, left‐eye winking, and right‐eye winking), it requires prior 3D mapping of individual faces. The new system aims higher, incorporating a temporal dimension in analyzing faces captured on video, and then using adaptive algorithms to 'fit them on the fly' to a generic 3D model.

"Our proposal provides the following enhancements: use of a generic face model, adaptation of a generic face model to a user, analysis of the set of expressions, and real‐time frame rate implementation. Such a system should allow a user to experience a seamless immersive interaction, and will constitute a major step toward in the development of new, reliable, fun, and inexpensive interfaces for human‐ computer interaction."

Medioni has been at USC since 1983, and is currently Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. He was Chairman of the Computer Science Department from 2001 to 2007, and is co-director of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS). Professor Medioni has made significant contributions to the field of computer vision. His research covers a broad spectrum of the field, such as edge detection, stereo and motion analysis, shape inference and description, and system integration. He has published 4 books, over 50 journal papers and 200 conference articles, and is the recipient of 8 international patents.

He is associate editor of the International Journal of Computer Vision, associate editor of the Pattern Recognition and Image Analysis Journal, on the advisory board of the IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence journal, and associate editor of the International Journal of Image and Video Processing. He is a Fellow of AAAI, IEEE and IAPR.

Meanwhile, his Hsieh Department colleague professor Alan Willner will continue to collaborate with HP Labs on a research initiative focused on high bandwidth optical interconnections for next-generation chips, "Signal Processing in On-Chip Optical Dense Wavelength-Division-Multiplexed (DWDM) Networks," a grant initially awarded in 2008 and now renewed for the second time. Willner explained the potential significance of the research. "Due to its potential for very high speeds, optics can potentially be used to achieve very-high-bandwidth interconnections for future computer chips.  This is as opposed to electronics, which has inherent resistance/capacitance that decreases speed and increases power consumption; this is evident in newer computers going to multi-core processors."

Under improvement: Medioni's existing system (illustrated above) attempts to reconstruct a frontal view (bottom) from photos captured at different angles. The proposed system will try to improve the algorithm by using temporal series to establish a 3D basis based on generic face models.

The HP Innovation Research program is designed to provide opportunities to conduct collaborative research. HP reviewed more than 375 proposals from 202 universities across 36 countries. USC  is one of only 52 universities in the world to receive a 2010 Innovation Research award. The HP Labs Innovation Research Program is designed to encourage open collaboration between HP and the academic community on mutually beneficial, high-impact research.

This year's proposals were solicited on a range of topics within the eight broad research themes at HP Labs – analytics, cloud, content transformation, digital commercial print, immersive interaction, information management, intelligent infrastructure and sustainability.

"Our goal with the HP Labs Innovation Research Program is to inspire the brightest minds from around the world to conduct high-impact scientific research, addressing the most important challenges and opportunities facing society in the next decade," said Prith Banerjee, senior vice president of research at HP and director of HP Labs. "The Viterbi School has demonstrated outstanding achievement and we look forward to collaborating with it in this dynamic area of research.”