Rana el Kaliouby

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Rana el Kaliouby
El Kaliouby.jpg
Born 1978 (age 39–40)
Nationality Egyptian, American
Education University of Cambridge
Occupation Computer scientist, Entrepreneur
Title CEO at Affectiva

Rana El-Kaliouby (born 1978) is an Egyptian-American computer scientist and entrepreneur. Her field is expression recognition research and technology development, which is a subset of facial recognition designed to identify the emotions expressed by the face.[1] El-Kaliouby's research moved beyond the field's dependence on exaggerated or caricatured expressions modeled by laboratory actors, to focus on the subtle glances found in real situations.

El-Kaliouby is currently the CEO of Affectiva, leading the company's Emotion Science team.[2] Her team applies computer vision, machine learning and data science to leverage the company's facial emotion repository, which it says is the world's largest with 2 million faces,[3] to understand people's feelings and behaviors.[4]


El Kaliouby earned her Bachelors and Master of Science degree from the American University in Cairo. Then she earned her Ph.D at Newnham College of the University of Cambridge.[5]


El-Kaliouby worked as a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, helping to found their Autism & Communication Technology Initiative.[6] Her original goal was to improve human-computer interaction, but she quickly became fascinated with the possibility of applying this technology to improve human-human communication, especially for autistic people, many of whom struggle with emotional communication.[7] At the Affective Computing group of MIT Media Lab, she was part of a team that pioneered development of the "emotional hearing aid",[8] a set of emotion-reading wearable glasses which the New York Times included in their Top 100 innovations of 2006.[9] El-Kaliouby demonstrates her work and is interviewed in the 2018 documentary on artificial intelligence Do You Trust This Computer?


  • 7 Women to Watch in 2014 – Entrepreneur Magazine[10]
  • Mass High Tech Top 20 Women to Watch 2014[11]
  • The Wired Smart List – Wired 2013[12]
  • MIT TR35 2012[13]

Other articles that have reported on Rana El-Kaliouby's career and invention:

  • When algorithms grow accustomed to your face | Nov. 2013 – New York Times.[14]
  • 25 Most Audacious Companies | April 2013 – Inc.[15]
  • The New Face of AdTech Goes Consumer | Aug 2012 – TechCrunch.[16]
  • Does Your Phone Know How Happy You Are? | June 2012 – Fast Company.[17]


Rana El-Kaliouby was inducted into the "Women in Engineering" Hall of Fame.[2][18] She is also a member of ACM, IEEE, Association of Children's Museums, British Machine Vision Association, and Nahdet el Mahrousa.[4]


Rana El-Kaliouby says that computers, while good with information, fall short when it comes to determining feelings, thus requiring manual prompting to respond to an operator's needs. Her interest primarily lies in the subtle facial changes that people tend to make. She has identified 24 landmarks to the face, each moving in different ways depending on an expressed emotion.[19]

This has many applications, from linguistics to video production. Autism patients, who typically have a different array of expressions that are apart from the norm, may be able to have their moods more easily monitored by parents or caretakers. For production purposes, computer generated imagery of faces (and presumably android projects) will be able to be more realistic in the art of subtlety.[original research?]


  1. ^ "MIT Technology Review 2012". Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Affectiva Company Team". Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  3. ^ http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/affectiva-builds-worlds-largest-emotion-analytics-repository-with-2-million-faces-analyzed-280647752.html
  4. ^ a b "Linkedin of Rana el Kaliouby". 
  5. ^ El-Kaliouby, Rana (2005). Mind-reading machines: automated inference of complex mental states (Technical report). University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory. UCAM-CL-TR-636. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2014-11-14. 
  7. ^ http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-say-more-you-think/201104/autism-spectrum-disorder-struggling-communication
  8. ^ El-Kaliouby, Rana; Robinson, Peter (2005-12-01). "The emotional hearing aid: an assistive tool for children with Asperger syndrome". Universal Access in the Information Society. Springer-Verlag. 4 (2): 121–134. doi:10.1007/s10209-005-0119-0. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  9. ^ The Social-Cue Reader, New York Times Magazine December 12, 2006 [note: this article was their writeup on the innovation, but it does not actually make the statement that it got into their top 100. That's probably in some other article which we could do with a citation for. This may involve finding it in a library because it's no longer online. There are plenty of secondary-source statements out there that say this innovation got into their top 100, but it would be nice to be able to cite the list directly.]
  10. ^ http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230351
  11. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/event/100331
  12. ^ https://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2013/12/features/the-smart-list-2013
  13. ^ http://www2.technologyreview.com/tr35/?year=2012
  14. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/technology/when-algorithms-grow-accustomed-to-your-face.html
  15. ^ http://www.inc.com/audacious-companies/april-joyner/affectiva.html
  16. ^ https://techcrunch.com/2012/08/07/the-new-face-of-ad-tech-goes-consumer-emotion-tracker-affectiva-takes-12m-from-kpcb-horizon-ventures-others/
  17. ^ http://www.fastcompany.com/1839275/does-your-phone-know-how-happy-you-are-emotion-recognition-industry-comes-giddily-age
  18. ^ The Women in Engineering Hall of Fame
  19. ^ Karen Weintraub, "Teaching devices to tell a frown from a smile", Innovators Under 35, Date not specified

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