Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: An interactive mirror that recognizes emotions  

Emotion recognition has been used across various industries to create better products and user experiences. It has also found its way into social-emotional learning, as the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh made it an integral part of their latest exhibition.

Museum experience like no other

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is a hands-on interactive children’s museum with a vision to transform education. The museum welcomes more than 300 000 visitors annually, providing innovative experiences that inspire creativity, kindness and curiosity.

Much of the work done at the museum in recent years has focused on social-emotional learning. It was no different with the latest exhibit – Emotions at Play with Pixar’s Inside Out – developed in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios.

Creating the Gauge Your Emotions Mirror

The Emotions at Play exhibit was inspired by Disney and Pixar’s animated film Inside Out. It follows the story of an 11-year-old Riley who is guided by her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the Control Panel inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life.

Focusing on the five core emotions featured in the movie, the exhibit introduces opportunities to explore the ways we express our emotions and recognize them in others. One of such opportunities is the Gauge Your Emotions Mirror – the interactive mirror that “recognizes” visitors’ emotions.

The Gauge Your Emotions Mirror helps children explore some of the ways we show how we feel. As children make faces, the mirror recognizes their current emotions and gives playful feedback. This is made possible by visage|SDK – cutting-edge face tracking and analysis technology.

As a visitor approaches the mirror, the software immediately detects their face and starts tracking it. At the same time, it analyzes facial expressions and recognizes their current emotions. Visitors’ privacy is ensured since the software doesn’t capture or store any personal information.

Since it’s extremely lightweight, visage|SDK ensures great performance on any device. Furthermore, it works locally, so it doesn’t require an Internet connection. For end-users, this translates to a seamless user experience as they always get to enjoy the results in real time.

Finally, visage|SDK comes with a detailed development guide, lots of customization options, and excellent technical support. With ready-made samples and a Unity plugin, it was easy to get the software up and running and bring the Gauge Your Emotions Mirror to life.

“When we began this project, we found very few options for fast, accurate emotion recognition. The two things that really helped guide our decision in choosing Visage Technologies were the excellent web demo that showcased all of the features and the free evaluation license that allowed us to prototype our ideas before committing to a purchase.”

Rachel Mastromarino, Director of Business Development at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Gauge Your Emotions Mirror   Gauge Your Emotions Mirror

Gauge Your Emotions Mirror (photos courtesy of Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh)


Emotion recognition in the service of learning

The Emotions at Play exhibit is filled with interactive experiences that help visitors understand the important role emotions, memory and imagination play in our everyday lives. By combining innovative technology, childrens’ favorite characters, and imagination, exploring the world of emotions becomes a fun learning experience.

The Gauge Your Emotions Mirror also opened up new opportunities for using emotion recognition technology in the field of social-emotional learning. As Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh continues its work in the field, such technology could become a valuable tool for helping visitors understand how expressed emotions play a role in all manner of person-to-person interactions.

“It has been close to two years since we began this project and still there seem to be very few options on par with Visage Technologies’ FaceAnalysis for fast, robust emotion recognition. Add to that the excellent customer support and it isn’t difficult to recommend.”

Anne Fullenkamp, Senior Director, Center for Creative Experiences


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