On International Happiness Day, Synthesis Software Technologies launched an app powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to test if kindness makes us happy.

The Happiness App asks users to perform an act of kindness and then smile. The AI then reads the person’s face and calculates their happiness score. The user is then promoted to share their score on social media and ask others to continue to spread happiness.

International Happiness Day takes place every year on 20 March, and Synthesis saw it as an opportunity to use technology for good. “We are officially extending International Happiness Day for a week – because why limit happiness?” says Howard Feldman, Synthesis head of marketing and people.

Numerous charities have joined Synthesis and are using this as an additional fundraising tool. Choc, Woodrock Animal Shelter, Afrika Tikkun, SA Harvest and Nasua Children’s Charity Foundation are just a few of many charities that have jumped on board to spread happiness.

Synthesis designed the app with a space to insert a charity of choice so every charity can gain the assistance it needs. The company has also not limited acts of kindness to donations so everyone can perform an act of kindness that resonates with them.

The company will collect the information to see what acts lead to the greatest happiness and how far happiness has spread.

“We used computer vision deep neural nets to analyse facial expressions and gauge a participant’s happiness. The bigger the smile, the higher the score,” explains Marais Neethling, Synthesis principle of AI.