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IEEE Physicians use pain expressions shown in a patient's face to regulate their palpation methods during physical examination. Training to interpret patients' facial expressions with different genders and ethnicities still remains a challenge, taking novices a long time to learn through experience. This paper presents MorphFace: a controllable 3D physical-virtual hybrid face to represent pain expressions of patients from different ethnicity-gender backgrounds. It is also an intermediate step to expose trainee physicians to the gender and ethnic diversity of patients. We extracted four principal components from the Chicago Face Database to design a four degrees of freedom (DoF) physical face controlled via tendons to span ~85% of facial variations among gender and ethnicity. Details such as skin colour, skin texture, and facial expressions are synthesized by a virtual model and projected onto the 3D physical face via a front-mounted LED projector to obtain a hybrid controllable patient face simulator. A user study revealed that certain differences in ethnicity between the observer and the MorphFace lead to different perceived pain intensity for the same pain level rendered by the MorphFace. This highlights the value of having MorphFace as a controllable hybrid simulator to quantify perceptual differences during physician training.

Original publication




Journal article


IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters

Publication Date