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Synthesis measures happiness at the AWS Summit

By Marais Neethling 

Can an app measure happiness? Synthesis Software Technologies (Synthesis) decided that the annual AWS Cape Town Summit, which they exhibited at and co-sponsored, was the ideal time to test this. They decided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Amazon Rekognition image and video analysis platform by measuring the happiness of visitors who came to visit their stand.

“With so many industry events taking place, coming up with a concept for a demo that not only attracts visitors but leaves a lasting impression is important. We wanted to combine Amazon innovation with our local expertise and create something that would provide delegates with a positive feeling,” says Marais Neethling, Head of Customer Success at Synthesis.

“We had numerous brainstorming sessions which ultimately resulted in the idea for a game based on how happy a person is perceived to be. It would use Amazon Rekognition to score an individual’s smile when they are standing in front of a camera. And so, the Happiness Project was born.”

The next step was getting attendees signed-up quickly and easily. They had to simply click on a sign-up URL on their phone which took them to a screen that was user-friendly and had a three-step sign-up process. Once completed, they received a unique QR code that activated the game at the Synthesis stand.

“Attendees simply needed to walk up to the stand and hold their QR code in front of the camera. Participants then had 10 to 15 seconds to convince the artificial intelligence (AI) that they were happy. The idea was to push a happiness bar to the highest score possible with the results displayed on a leader board.” What resulted was, in fact, a measure of happiness and attendees doing their best to put the AI to the test.

One would expect such an endeavour would be tedious to complete but according to Neethling, implementing the demo as a serverless application on AWS was a pleasure. “In total, we spent approximately 100 man-hours to complete the demo including the PWA app with the chatbot interface, the Lex-powered chatbot, and the leader board with face detection and happiness scoring. The immense power of the AWS cloud enabled us to build this in a short amount of time with no infrastructure to maintain.”

Previously, putting together the components and services for such a demo would have taken three times as long. But because this is a serverless environment, it scaled effortlessly without any additional work required from Synthesis.

“The results were sensational. Users loved the competitive and fun nature of the demo. If they were not happy before they played it, they were certainly smiling afterwards,” he concludes.