Created in partnership with the Polish Blind Association, the Android app is designed specifically for use on Huawei's Mate 20 Pro smartphone.
As the blind user speaks to another person, the phone's rear cameras scan that person's face. Utilizing artificial intelligence-based algorithms, the app pays particular attention to features such as the eyes, nose, eyebrows and mouth, and their positions relative to one another.
Based on this data, the program is reportedly able to discern seven basic emotions. It proceeds to let the user know which of these the other person is displaying, representing that emotion as one of seven corresponding musical cues. These short tunes were created by blind composer Tomasz Bilecki, with blind test subjects claiming that they are easy to remember and understand — they can be heard either through the phone's speakers, or (more discretely) via an attached earbud.
The Facing Emotions app, which works entirely offline, can be downloaded via the Google Play store. A 3D-printed lanyard-style phone holder was also designed for use with the app, the files for which can be downloaded from Shapeways.
Samsung, along with Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, have both previously developed emotion-reading apps of their own.
According to newatlas