Face Reading Goes High-Tech, with Profound Implications for Future

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

The ancient Asian art of face-reading has gone high-tech in Japan. Japanese scientists are now applying high-speed photographic technology to the art, adding a new dimension to understanding human feelings and human communication—a development that could eventually change most human interactions.


     This new development is being led by electronics manufacturer Omron’s Keihanna Technology Innovation Center [KTIC] in its O’kao (Honorable Face) face-sensing technology project.


    The KTIC has over one million photos of the faces of some 9,000 people that reveal different facial expressions that are then related to meanings and moods—taking the art of face-reading to a level never dreamed of before.


    The researchers say the new technology can be applied in many ways, from linking people with devices and machines to revealing a person’s innermost thoughts that may be contrary to what they are saying—going beyond a sophisticated lie-detector to virtually reading a person’s mind.


     Japanese researchers at Meiji University School of Science and Technology (MUSST) are taking this new innovation in a different direction by linking facial movements to operating electronic devices, giving the impression of virtual thought-control.


     MUSST’s main project is a robotic face [called Kansei or “Sensibilities”] that has a data base of half a million words with facial expressions that relate to meanings of the words.


     The creator of the robotic face, Prof. Junichi Takeno, says his goal is to discover the mechanisms of consciousness.  At this time his robot face has 36 expressions—probably more than the average person thinks he or she is capable of expressing.


     Among the practical applications of the new face-reading approach: enhanced security systems; photo booth cameras that manipulate colors and contrasts to make the subjects more attractive; turn electronic devices off and on; manipulate household appliances that have embedded chips; and act as backups for drivers who become fatigued or whose attention is distracted—in other words, the ultimate remote controls.


     Face-reading as both an art and science was originally studied and institutionalized in China some 3,000 years ago by physicians who began to relate facial features with intelligence, character, personality, sexuality and other human attributes as part of their health-care practices.


     From the health-care industry, face-reading became a skill that was used by the Chinese military, by business people, and by men seeking more amorous female partners—the latter use making it especially popular among ordinary people. [Many of the readings are sensually oriented.]


    From around the 14th century A.D. Japanese priests and others who had occasion to visit China picked up on the face-reading theory and practice of the Chinese and introduced it into Japan.


     I began studying the art in Japan in the mid-1950s after being inspired by the face-reader brought in by the military in 1939 to help decide what kind of training new recruits were best suited for. He was living in Chiba at that time and readily agreed to be interviewed.


     I subsequently wrote a book entitled Face-Reading for Fun & Profit [recently republished as Asian Face Reading: Unlock the Secrets Hidden in the Human Face], went on a lecture tour in the U.S., and appeared on the then popular What’s My Line television show in New York.


     This activity helped promote the use of face-reading in the corporate world of American, with some companies using face-readers in their recruiting efforts as well as in their decisions to promote employees to higher positions. But we remain far behind the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans in using face-reading insights in business as well as in social relationships


     Still, everybody face reads. In fact, it is the very first thing we do when seeing or meeting someone for the first time, and throughout life we continue to read the faces of people we are talking to or listening to, and everyone automatically makes judgments about the character, veracity, etc., of these individuals.


    But there are over one hundred precise readings based on the size, shape and quality of the facial features, and without special knowledge or training most people recognize and react to less than half of this number.


     Face-reading is an important element in the non-verbal communication that is common in all cultures, and can be vital in cross-cultural business, diplomatic and political relationships. It also plays a key role in the election of candidates to political offices.


Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the moral collapse of the U.S. along with books on his home state of Arizona. To see a full list of his books go to: Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way!