Emotion-detecting glasses may help doctors diagnose patients more accurately and give friends a heads up on each other’s emotions, joining other mood-sensing mobile devices that promise to revolutionize human interaction.
O2Amps glasses have three different filters to detect subtle changes in blood cells beneath the skin, which may help clinicians determine patient health and emotional stability with just one glance.
The “vein-finder” filter help clinicians locate patients’ veins by heightening the color difference between red oxygenated and greenish deoxygenated blood. This color contrast appears to make veins glow brightly. “Hemo-finders,” which contrast blood-rich, blue-toned skin regions with yellowish areas drained of blood, are meant for emergency trauma detection. “Health-monitor” lenses combine both of the above filters to create an emotion-detecting system that doctors can use to assess patients’ overall comfort levels.
“If you’re angry, you get red. When you’re showing weakness, the opposite is true — your blood becomes deoxygenated and your skin appears greener,” explained Mark Changizi of 2AI Labs in Boise, Idaho.
“Yellow is associated with fear because the blood gets pulled out of your extremities and flows into your organs. The opposite of being yellow with fear is being blue, which your skin exhibits when you’re sedate,” he continued.
O2Amps joins other emotion-detecting technology that may one day change the face of medicine and daily social interaction.
Microsoft’s Kinect is capable of reading users’ emotions by tracking facial expressions and vocal tones. The company plans to leverage this innovation for advertising purposes, but it may also prove helpful in diagnosing conditions like autism and attention-deficit disorder.
The IBrain detects emotions by reading brain waves, which may allow speech-impaired people to communicate their thoughts without resorting to pen and paper.
And Nuance, the creator of Apple’s Siri voice assistant, is working on a platform to help mobile devices determine their owners’ moods.
Changizi created the eyewear after studying vision evolution in primates. He postulated our ancestors developed an ability to see color as a way to understand emotion by detecting minute changes in others’ blood and skin tones, an idea that led to the glasses.
“We’re in conversations with Maui Jim, Luxottica and other companies,” he said. “Color enhancement is something these companies are already interested in. Well, color vision evolved among primates to help us understand emotions and signals in skin. Now that we know what color vision is for, we can design eyewear specifically for it.”
O2Amps still needs improvements before going to market next year, as the hot pink glasses may not appeal to all doctors and other consumers.
Further, the glasses threaten to change a variety of social habits like dating or poker playing, which rely on emotional guardedness to work. Humanity may not be ready for the widespread use of O2Amps just yet, especially if those wearing the glasses constantly see everyone’s veins glowing.
Despite these difficulties, however, Changizi is pushing ahead with plans for production. O2Amps seem poised to change our emotion-detection abilities, improving on millions of years of evolution in one set of glasses.