Listerine, known best for its mouthwash and breath strips, seems like a strange company to build an app at first, but there's a great reason why it would do so. Smile Detector, as it's called, has one very heartwarming purpose: to allow blind people to feel when others are smiling at them.
Using facial recognition and a smartphone's camera, the app finds a face and vibrates or emits a sound when that face is smiling. Such a simple idea, but one with amazing effects when put into practice.
In a video shot by Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker, the app's power is showcased as various blind and visually impaired people test it out. Smile Detector can sense motion up to 15 feet away and is most easily used by hanging a phone around the neck with the camera facing outward while the app is running. As smiles are detected, the phone vibrates on the user's chest.
The best part is how surprised they were with how much they like it.
"When I first got [the app], I thought it was going to be a bit of fun, but actually it's really special," said Chloe, one of the younger subjects in the video. "It's something that people just take for granted, knowing that they're being smiled at. But when you don't know that, you're kind of missing that interaction, so when you know you're being smiled at, it kind of makes you feel like, ah, that's nice, someone smiled at me."
Sarah, the mother of a 1-year-old baby boy who has never seen him, completely agreed.
"I sort of remember my sisters and my family — I remember their smiles from when I could see, but because he's only 1, I've never seem him smile," she said. When the phone buzzed because her son was smiling, she cracked a huge smile herself.
Available on both Android and iOS, Listerine Smile Detector is one of the few branded apps that's worth a download because it's making a big difference for people in the most heartwarming way.
"When creating this app, we wanted to make something that could help those that might miss some smiles, to once again be able to feel the power of every smile," J. Walter Thompson London (who developed the app) Creative Director John Cherry told Little Black Book. "Obviously we captured people's first use of the app, and it turned out to be a genuinely powerful and emotional film."