Experiments on the new lie detector being developed by the University of Bradford in the north of England are still at an early stage but have, so far, yielded some promising results.
“We have developed a system by which we can analyze people’s faces for detecting lies in an interview scenario,” said professor Hassan Ugail, director of the Center for Visual Computing at the university.
The thermal imaging camera, Ugail explains, captures variations in facial temperature in response to questioning.
“When someone is making something up on the spot, brain activity usually changes and you can detect this through the thermal camera,” Ugail said.
The areas around the eye — the periorbital — and the cheeks are highly sensitive to temperature rise, Ugail says, and in some cases it’s possible for individual blood vessels to be tracked.
Working in tandem with the thermal imaging is a standard camera which tracks facial gestures frame-by-frame which are analyzed using Facial Action Units — a system for categorizing facial expression devised by American psychologists Paul Ekman and Walter V. Friesen.
The information is collated and fed into a computer where a specially created mathematical algorithm assesses how truthful a respondent has been.
Around 30-40 subjects having been tested so far with a two in three success rate.
The technology is due to be trialed at a UK airport later this year in the hope it can assist current profiling techniques used by the UK’s Border Control Agency.
Lie detection is a difficult task, Vrij says, as there are no nonverbal or verbal cues that can be completely relied upon.
Most research indicates that detecting truths and lies becomes more successful when you take speech content into account.
But if the new device can prove its worth, so to speak, then Ugail is confident it can find a place not just at airports, but in police stations and, perhaps, in job interviews.
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