classdoc: Detector [ObjectiveC]

Using the built-in camera is a common way to obtain video for facial expression detection. Either the front or back camera of your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch can be used to feed video directly:

Creating the detector

- (id)initWithDelegate:(id <AFDXDetectorDelegate>)delegate usingCamera:(AFDXCameraType)camera maximumFaces:(NSUInteger)maximumFaces faceMode:(FaceDetectorMode)faceMode;

This method takes a reference to an object which adheres to the AFDXDetectorDelegate protocol, a parameter of type AFDXCameraType (AFDX_CAMERA_FRONT or AFDX_CAMERA_BACK) which specifies the camera to use, the maximum number of faces to detect, and the face mode (LARGE_FACES or SMALL_FACES).

Configuring the detector

Using the AFDXDetectorDelegate Protocol

The SDK communicates results to your app via the AFDXDetectorDelegate protocol. Here are the methods that your app will need to know about.

- (void)detector:(AFDXDetector *)detector didStartDetectingFace:(AFDXFace *)face;

This method is called in your code and signals when the detector detects a new face that has come into view. It is often used in conjunction with detector:didStopDetectingFace:. The implementation of this delegate method is optional.

- (void)detector:(AFDXDetector *)detector didStopDetectingFace:(AFDXFace *)face;

This method is called in your code and signals when the detector no longer detects a particular face. This is the converse of detector:didStartDetectingFace:. Together, the two methods provide signals of when a face comes into or goes out of view. The implementation of this delegate method is also optional.

- (void)detector:(AFDXDetector *)detector hasResults:(NSMutableDictionary *)faces forImage:(NSImage *)image atTime:(NSTimeInterval)time;

This method is called in your code when the detector has processed a video frame from the camera, from a video file, or via a static image. There are four parameters sent to this method:

  1. A reference to the detector.
  2. A dictionary of AFDXFace objects corresponding to the faces in the image. They key for each object is the face identifier. If nil is passed, then this is an unprocessed frame.
  3. A reference to the image.
  4. A timestamp (relative to 0) representing the point in time that the image was processed,

For camera and video cases, the number of frames that are processed to the detector is usually a subset of the available frames.


If you plan to use the camera to process facial frames using the Affdex SDK, you can specify the maximum number of frames per second. This is helpful to balance battery life with your processing requirements. The default (and recommended) rate is 5 frames per second, but you may also set it lower if you are using an older device such as an iPad 2, and need additional performance.

detector.maxProcessRate = 8.0;

Choosing the classifiers

The next step is to turn on the detection of the metrics needed. By default, all classifiers are disabled. Here, we’ll turn on a few classifiers. For example:

// turning on a few emotions = YES;
detector.anger = YES;

// turning on a few expressions = YES;
detector.browRaise = YES;
detector.browFurrow = YES;

// turning on a few emojis
detector.smiley = YES;
detector.kissing = YES; // etc

To turn on or off the detection of all expressions, emotions or emojis:

[detector setDetectAllEmotions:YES];
[detector setDetectAllExpressions:YES];
[detector setDetectEmojis:YES];

Initializing the detector

After a detector is configured using the methods above, the detector initialization can be triggered by calling the start method:

NSError *error = [detector start];

Check the return value for any error that may have occurred during the start process. If everything is fine, then nil will be returned and the detector comes to life.

Note that

The start() connects to the specified camera to capture video frames then processes them and use the AFDXDetectorDelegate protocol to notify of the captured frames, and results. If you specify the use of the device camera and the camera is already in use, an error results.

Getting detection results

When the array of faces comes into the delegate method, your application can interpret the data as it sees fit. Here’s a code example:

// Convenience method to work with processed images.
- (void)processedImageReady:(AFDXDetector *)detector image:(NSImage *)image faces:(NSDictionary *)faces atTime:(NSTimeInterval)time;
    for (AFDXFace *face in [faces allValues])
        if (isnan( == NO)
            // do something with the value...
        if (isnan(face.expressions.browRaise) == NO)
            // do something with the value...
        // handle other metrics here
        . . .

// Convenience method to work with unprocessed images.
- (void)unprocessedImageReady:(AFDXDetector *)detector image:(NSImage *)image atTime:(NSTimeInterval)time;
    // This is an unprocessed frame... do something with it...

// The delegate method of the AFDXDetectorDelegate protocol.
- (void)detector:(AFDXDetector *)detector hasResults:(NSMutableDictionary *)faces forImage:(NSImage *)image atTime:(NSTimeInterval)time;
    if (nil == faces)
        [self unprocessedImageReady:detector image:image atTime:time];
        [self processedImageReady:detector image:image faces:faces atTime:time];

In the above code snippet, the delegate method will call one of two instance methods depending on the value of the faces dictionary. The unprocessedImageReady:image:atTime: method receives unprocessed frames while the processedImageReady:image:faces:atTime: method receives the processed ones. In that method, you can check the metric values for all AFDXFace objects in the dictionary. The value extracted from the metric should be checked for NaN (not a number) which indicates that the detector has not been instructed to detect that emotion or expression.

For multiple face detection, it is important to keep in mind that each face has its own face identifier (a unique number) which is tracked as long as that face remains in the image and does not “cross over” another face. If one face’s bounding box collides with another face’s bounding box from one frame to the next (in video or non-discrete image mode), the face tracker may assign a different face ID to those faces.

Stopping the detector

At the end of the interaction with the detection. Stopping the detector can be done as follows:

NSError *error = [detector stop];

The processing state can be reset. This method resets the context of the video frames. Additionally Face IDs and Timestamps are set to zero (0):

NSError *error = [detector reset];