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Arizona State program’s facial recognition software helps doctors read patients


PHOENIX — The school of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University is using facial recognition software to help doctors better connect with their patients.

According to Dr. Jack Chisum, a clinical associate professor at the university, the software tracks 491 points on the human face. The software can then figure out which emotion the person is feeling.

Chisum said they use those emotions to determine how they can better connect with the patient.

“If you have an interview where you have a lot of anger or sadness in it, that’s something you would not want to happen, because that not leading you to a point where they’re going to change behaviors,” Chisum said.

“We are here to say how would you work that question around so we can use some of the comfort zone rather then take them right out of their comfort zone.”

Chisum said keeping patients in their comfort zone is key to having a productive conversation. He added they are using the software to train doctors how to ask the right questions.

To do that, they record the patient during conversations with a doctor. After a conversation they go back and analyze the real-time emotions the patient is feeling.

If the doctor asks a question that leads to anger, the doctor will know there could be something more, and can go back to the question in a different way.

“If we can connect the client and the practitioner together, the healing should be better,” Chisum said.

In the end, Chisum said, the technology will help build trust between the patient and the doctor.

The program is in the research phase. Chisum hopes the software will be able to help those with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

In one case, the facial recognition software helped a woman make a breakthrough after 20 years of therapy. He said after knowing where the woman was having difficulty expressing her emotion, they were able to begin to make progress in therapy.

Chisum has been approached by police departments and corporations that want to use the software to better connect with people as well. He said police departments are interested in how they can use the software to mend relationships with the community.

When it comes to companies, they are interested in using the software to hire the right person for the job. They also want to use the software to help managers better handle their employees on an individual level.

On top of the facial recognition software, ASU is also using a voice recognition software to monitor people’s emotions.