Innovation for Independence

YouSmile: Facial Expression Feedback for People with Parkinson’s Disease

YouSmile: Facial Expression Feedback for People with Parkinson’s Disease
Publish date:
16/01/2015 - 11:59am
Last updated:
16/01/2015 - 12:05pm

We propose the use of a wearable interface using advanced computational methods to help people with Parkinson's Disease(PD) visualize and train the quality and intensity of their facial expressions. We would like to increase the quality of life of persons with PD by allowing them to be aware of their facial expressions through feedback using their facial electromyographic signals, because facial expressions are essential for the experience and expression of emotions and for successful human interaction.

Insight & Impact

Social interaction, a central part of human life, relies on our mutual understanding of the emotions of others and depends greatly on sending and perceiving facial expressions. Impairments in performance and/or interpretation of these signals are often a barrier to communication that can lead to social isolation and depression (Hawkley & Cacioppo, 2007). Failure to respond to a happy expression may lead an interlocutor to reduce their own expression of happiness and a failure to produce emotional expressions may also interfere with the ability to accurately interpret the expressions of others (Rochas et al., 2012). Many people with Parkinson’s (PD) suffer rigidity of facial muscles that limits their ability to produce facial expressions. Because of this, their ability to experience emotions and to interpret the emotions of others may be diminished and they may experience difficulty in communicating their emotional states to others. People with PD may also experience facial asymmetry when making facial expressions leading to expressions that are difficult to interpret and appear strange (Croisiers et al., 2011). The technology generated can be used to build a wearable therapeutic device that can help them both be aware and train their facial expressions in order to improve their quality of life and improve affective communication with loved ones.