Smiles are the most recognizable human expression. They are identified the most quickly and from the furthest distance. They are an essential part of first impressions, and probably the most universal form of nonverbal communication, making them an essential social asset.

Because they’re so readily accessible, they have become vital to human communication. If robots are ever to interact with us effectively, they will have to learn how to read our smiles. Several companies are working hard to discover how best to make this happen.

With a Click and a Smile

One of the most basic uses for smiles is having them play the role of a mouse click. The goal is to create a robust interface for dealing with computers without actually touching them. Verbal commands can take the place of typing, and eye tracking can move a mouse cursor around. Then a quick smile will allow you to click wherever you want.

There are two forms of this interface being developed. One is for use with wearable technology like Google Glass, where the computer reads your smile from the movement of your cheeks. Another version is set up to identify your smile just by looking. So far, the technology seems promising, but whether it becomes really useful will depend on what interfaces are developed.

Siri Smile

Apple has recently made a significant purchase in this area. Earlier this month, the company acquired developer Emotient, which has been working on a technology that not only sees your smile, but can tell what you’re really feeling, even if you don’t say it. This technology has already shown promise in product testing, where it was able to identify the emotions of focus group participants more accurately than what they wrote down on their questionnaires.

This technology would fuse nicely with the other strides Apple has been making in artificial intelligence as it has been trying to improve the ability of its personal assistant Siri to not just respond to, but to anticipate the needs of iPhone users. It will be interesting to see how this technology dovetails with and influences the future direction of Apple.

From Social Asset to Tech Tool

Because a smile is so universal in human communication, it may soon come to play a vital role in our communication with computers and robots. Some day, a robot receptionist may be able to notice if you are uncomfortable with your smile. Hopefully it will also have the tact not to bring it up in an embarrassing way.

If you are unhappy with your smile and would like to have one you can just proudly share, please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment with a Las Vegas cosmetic dentist at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.