Intel Innovator: Dr. Anbang Yao, Senior Staff Research Scientist, Intel Labs China
Dr. Anbang Yao, a senior staff research scientist at Intel Labs China in Beijing, leads a team of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers working on computer vision, a field of research that allows machines to gain insight from digital content. (Credit: Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation)
How he'd describe his work to a 10-year-old: "I'm helping machines see the world like humans do."
More: Read about all Intel Innovators | Artificial Intelligence
Imagine a machine that tells if you're happy or sad: Anbang leads a small team of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers at Intel Labs China in Beijing. They work to significantly advance computer vision, a specific field of research that allows machines to gain more insight from digital content. His team's goal? Create computers that accurately detect and understand a person's emotional state by pairing a visual camera and microphone with smart AI software.
Meet the "advanced emotion recognition engine": Three year ago, Anbang and his team created intelligent, highly sophisticated software that can detect seven distinct human emotions: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise and contempt. Their work is gaining notice across the industry, winning first place in a 2017 worldwide AI competition called EmotiW. Today, a version of Anbang's AI engine is available in Intel® RealSense™ cameras.
Richer data boosts accuracy: To more accurately gauge the emotion someone is expressing, Anbang weaves both visual and audio data into his recognition engine, which produces a "confidence score," a percentage figure that indicates the AI's degree of confidence in the result. Most leading visual recognition systems on the market today rely only on visual data.
Far-out tech with far-reaching impact: With commercial applications likely years away, Intel teams work on proof-of-concept tests to explore and demonstrate how this technology might be used. For example, when this AI engine is paired with a camera, it could ensure a car will not start if it detects the driver is intoxicated; it could be used in home-care robots for the elderly; or it can act as an improved voice assistant that interacts with you at a level beyond verbal commands.
When Anbang met PC: Anbang grew up in a poor village in China's northwestern Gansu province. He earned his Ph.D. in information and communication engineering from China's Tsinghua University, though he had never seen, much less used, a computer before he went to college.
Leaving a visible impact on our lives: "I grew up watching advertisements of computers on my family's aging television, and I somehow always knew I wanted to be a computer scientist one day," he says. "Today, the work we're doing in this field is going to change many lives. I can't wait to see how our customers are going to use our technology in their products."