The BBC has an article about the latest computer “mind-reading” technology. It’s not as sinister as it sounds: the computer is programmed to monitor human facial expressions and attempt to recognize the corresponding emotion.
Peter Robinson, professor of computer technology at the University of Cambridge, said: “The system can already cope with the variation in people’s facial composition; for example, if you have a round or thin face, or if you wear glasses or have a beard.
So what are the applications of this technology? Just follow the money:
Robinson added: “Our research could enable websites to tailor advertising or products to your mood.”
For example, he explained, software linked to a webcam could process a person’s image, encode the correct emotional state and transmit the information to a website, which could then display products or advertising.
Robinson’s web site has more details about the system. The researchers used videotapes of actors demonstrating the basic emotional states to train the computer to recognize emotions. The computer is 90 percent accurate when recognizing actors, but only 65 percent accurate with untrained individuals. (Regular CogDaily readers may recall the difficulty I had convincing them that the emotion I was trying to convey was actually pride.)
A more practical benefit of the device could be for autism / Asperger’s patients: they could use a small videocamera attached to a headset or possibly their eyeglasses to help read the emotions of others and enhance their ability to interact with them.