Andrej Tozon's blog

In the Attic


Microsoft Cognitive Services - using a Face API SDK

Once you have a Microsoft Cognitive Services Face API set up (see previous post), it's very easy to consume because they are based on a familiar JSON-based REST API. That means you can either access your services by rolling your own code or use one of existing SDKs that are available for most common platforms - Windows, iOS, Android and Python.

For example - if you're developing a Windows application, you'd use this NuGet package.

In fact, let's build a fresh Windows UWP app that uses Face API Cognitive Service...

1. Fire up Visual Studio (2017!) and start a new Windows Universal | Blank app project.

2. Go to NuGet Package Manager and update all existing packages.

3. Browse for and install 'Microsoft.ProjectOxford.Face' package.

4. Open MainForm.xaml and put this short piece of XAML UI inside the Page tag:

<Grid Background="{ThemeResource ApplicationPageBackgroundThemeBrush}">
        <RowDefinition Height="Auto"/>
        <RowDefinition Height="Auto"/>
        <RowDefinition Height="*"/>
    <TextBox x:Name="FaceApiKeyBox" Header="Face API Key" Grid.Row="0" />
    <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Grid.Row="1">
        <Button Content="Browse" Click="OnBrowseForImage" />
    <Viewbox Grid.Row="2">
        <Grid VerticalAlignment="Center">
            <Image x:Name="Image" Stretch="None" />
            <Grid x:Name="FacesGrid"/>

5. Add code for that single event handler. I'll break it down in smaller pieces...

5a. Pick a file. If file wasn't picked, do nothing.

private async void OnBrowseForImage(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
    var file = new FileOpenPicker();
    file.SuggestedStartLocation = PickerLocationId.PicturesLibrary;
    file.ViewMode = PickerViewMode.Thumbnail;

    var fileName = await file.PickSingleFileAsync();
    if (fileName == null) return;
5b. Open selected file, put its contents into a visual control named Image and use the same file stream to call Face API. Not how FaceServiceClient is instantiated (providing key and endpoint). Providing endpoint may currently be optional, depending on which endpoint you've registered your service with.
Face[] detectedFaces;
using (var currentStream = await fileName.OpenStreamForReadAsync())
    var bitmap = new BitmapImage();
    await bitmap.SetSourceAsync(currentStream.AsRandomAccessStream());
    Image.Source = bitmap;
    currentStream.Seek(0, SeekOrigin.Begin);

    var client = new FaceServiceClient(FaceApiKeyBox.Text, "");
    detectedFaces = await client.DetectAsync(currentStream);

DetectAsync method will upload image data and ask the service to detect any faces it could find and return their data.

5c. Finally, we'll take that data and draw rectangle around detected faces.

var red = new SolidColorBrush(Colors.Red);
var white = new SolidColorBrush(Colors.White);
var transparent = new SolidColorBrush(Colors.Transparent);

foreach (var face in detectedFaces)
    var rectangle = new Rectangle
        Width = face.FaceRectangle.Width,
        Height = face.FaceRectangle.Height,
        StrokeThickness = 4,
        Stroke = red,
        Fill = transparent

    var textBlock = new TextBlock {Foreground = white};

    var border = new Border
        Padding = new Thickness(5),
        Background = red,
        BorderThickness = new Thickness(0),
        Visibility = Visibility.Collapsed,
        HorizontalAlignment = HorizontalAlignment.Left,
        Child = textBlock

    var stackPanel = new StackPanel();
    stackPanel.Margin = new Thickness(face.FaceRectangle.Left, face.FaceRectangle.Top, 0, 0);
    stackPanel.HorizontalAlignment = HorizontalAlignment.Left;
    stackPanel.VerticalAlignment = VerticalAlignment.Top;
    stackPanel.DataContext = face;


6. Run the application.

7. Enter the Face API key that you've got from registering your Azure Face API service.

8. Browse for an image file.

9. Wait for the result.

I've used Microsoft's C#/Windows NuGet package to ease my way to using Cognitive Services Face API in my application. Remember there are more SDKs available for you to use on other platforms too! Including some links to their project pages - here's Android, iOS, and Python.

Full source code used for this blog post is available on github.