How would life be if our surroundings would react to our emotions? Researchers at CSAIL (MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intellegence Laboratory) have developed the EQ-Radio: a tool to read people emotions from a distance.
Like a bat sends out a sonar which reflects back to detect the surroundings, the EQ-Radio sends out a signal that reflects back on the human body, tracking respiration and cardiac rhythms. The radio has algorithms that can extract the heartbeat from the signals the body reflects. It then analyzes each heartbeat and compares it to previous measurements, knowing if a person is happy, angry or sad.
The EQ-Radio could have various implications in our daily life, for instance the data could be sent to the devices in your home. For example, when you feel sad the lights get warmer and your fridge orders a chocolate cake in advance. It could also be applied on a bigger scale: a football stadium that can recognize anger amongst supporters and warns the security before the situation gets out of hand.
The applications in healthcare are even more promising. Doctors can use it as a non-invasive method to monitor patients with depression, anxiety issues and other medical conditions.
Most of all, a technology based on emotion tracking is interesting for companies to understand their customers behavior. They could get realtime feedback to their latest advertisement or they could hide an EQ-Radio in the supermarkt shelves to see how people react to new products. At the beginning of this year, Apple bought the start up Emotient, a company that develops software to track emotions by simply using a camera. It is able to recognize gender, but mainly focusses on facial micro expressions which we show before even realizing it. It is simply a perfect lie detector, working much more accurately than the regular sales questionnaires or researches. With these technologies it won't be long before our surroundings know how we feel, before we do.