Emoface is a startup initiated at the University of Grenoble-Alpes in France with the mission to create a solution for children to discover and understand emotions easier.

The Emoface Play & Learn Emotions app was developed in the Gipsa-Lab laboratory – a multidisciplinary research unit resulting from the collaboration between the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Grenoble Institute of Technology (Grenoble-INP) and the University of Grenoble -Alpes (UGA), in agreement with the National Research Institute of Digital Sciences and Technologies of France (Inria).

Emoface is the result of five years of academic research in understanding emotions and generating 3D animations and emotional expressions and of a continuous improvement effort starting from the latest discoveries in the field. From the beginning of the project, the team worked closely with specialists in the scientific, academic, educational and medical fields and listened to the feedback of the community so that children can benefit from the best emotion learning experience through play and professionals can rely on an effective tool in their interaction with children.



The story begins in 2017, when Adela Barbulescu, one of Emoface’s founders, was still studying at the University of Grenoble-Alpes in France and was preparing her dissertation: a technology that “translates” emotions.

During the documentation process, Adela discovered that there are many people and especially children who face difficulties in deciphering emotions and understood that technology can help them. She met with dozens of professionals who confirmed her theory and this is how the idea of developing an accessible and intuitive app to teach children with autism spectrum disorders about emotions began to take shape.

Mayra and Marcia

On the other side of the city, Mayra Lima was increasingly interested in the role of design in the development of communication among people with autism spectrum disorders and was becoming increasingly specialized in the field. Her interest came from her own experience: her sister, Marcia, is a person with autism. Their family understood very well what are the challenges of expressing emotions and how difficult it often is for a child – and later an adult – on the autism spectrum to understand and react to the emotions of others.

The two future co-founders of Emoface had been living in France for only a few years and knew what it meant not only to adapt to a new country, but also to live in a world that is difficult to understand. Their university studies helped them to better understand what this can mean and how difficult life can be for people who have a different perception of what surrounds them. Without yet knowing each other, each of them dreamt of turning their study project into a solution that would make emotions easier to understand.

Adela and Mayra were meant to meet and their paths finally crossed in 2017. They set off with the idea of creating innovative tools for recognizing and learning social emotions and interactions. The evidence was clear: games are the ideal option for discovering emotions in a fun and easy to understand way. After years of research and development with families and professionals, the Emoface app was launched in the spring of 2020.

Today, Emoface:

Proposes a statistical modeling of complex emotions. Addresses the needs of people with autism spectrum disorders, providing a relevant tool to all facing difficulties in understanding and expressing emotions. Confirms the validity and efficiency of its 3D animation generation technology. Features 3D avatars that can be modeled to express complex emotions

  1. Important events:

    Dec 2012 - Dec 2016 : thèse et postdoc Adela (Gipsa-lab, Inria, UGA)

  2. Important events:

    2017-2019 : incubation SATT Linksium

  3. incubators and mentors

    Novembre 2017 : design (arrivée de Mayra)

  4. incubators and mentors

    Septembre 2018 : orthophonie clinique (arrivée de Juliette)

  5. Important events:

    Janvier 2020-Janvier 2021 : incubation Ronalpia

  6. incubators and mentors

    Avril 2020 : Lancement bêta de la Emoface Play&Learn emotions

  7. Important events:

    Mars 2021 : pre-études et étude clinique avec LiLLab

  8. incubators and mentors

    Septembre 2020 : Prix Innovators for Children (Impact Hub)

  9. incubators and mentors

    Octobre 2020 : Prix innovation Fondation Jacques Chirac

  10. subventions, prizes

    Novembre 2020 : Bourse French Tech Emergence (BPI France)

  11. Team/scientific consultants:

    Décembre 2020 : ergonomie / AI (arrivée Lena)

  12. subventions, prizes

    Décembre 2020 : accompagnement Orange

  13. Team/scientific consultants:

    Juillet 2020 : Lauréat Concours National i-Lab

  14. subventions, prizes

    Avril 2021 : pre-études et étude clinique avec LiLLab

  15. subventions, prizes

    Avril 2021 : Lancement Emoface Play&Learn emotions


Adela Barbulescu, CEO Emoface

Adela Barbulescu

CEO & Co-founder
PhD in Computer Science - AI, 3D avatars

Mayra Lima, Directrice Creative Emoface

Mayra Lima

Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer
UX UI Designer for Autism

Antoine Begault, CTO Emoface

Antoine Begault

3D graphics research engineer

Elodie Soufi, Chargée Marketing Emoface

Elodie Soufi

Marketing & Customer Experience Officer


Juliette Cosnier

Speech therapist


Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital (France) and French Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics (ISIR)

Rémi Ronfard

National Research Institute for Digital Science and Technology of France (INRIA)

Gerard Bailly

GIPSA-Lab, National Center for Scientific Research in France (CNRS)

The Emoface team works closely with partners in the scientific, academic, educational and medical fields. Among them are: Gipsa-Lab, a multidisciplinary research unit resulting from the collaboration between the National Center for Scientific Research in France (CNRS), the Institute of Technology in Grenoble (Grenoble-INP) and the University of Grenoble-Alpes (UGA), in agreement with the National Research Institute for Digital Science and Technology in France (Inria) and with the Observatory of Sciences of the University of Grenoble-Alpes. Since January 2020, the Ronalpia business incubator has been supporting Emoface as part of its program to contribute to the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.