If you’ve been following our blog, you know the lab has wondered and worried and crossed fingers about the ability of facial recognition not only to track faces, but also eventually to give us clues to visitors’ emotions and attitudes. The recognition and tracking of individuals looks to be promising with the new system, getting up to about 90% accuracy, with good profiles for race and age (incidentally, the cost, including time invested in the old system we abandoned, is about the same with this new system). However, we don’t have any idea whether we’ll get any automated data on emotions, despite the relative similarity of expression of these emotions on human faces.

But I ran across this very cool technology that may help us in our quest: glasses that sense changes in oxygen levels in blood under the skin and can sense emotional states. The glasses amplify what primates have been doing for years, namely sensing embarrassment from flushed redder skin, or fear in greener-tinted skin than normal. Research from Mark Changizi at my alma mater, Caltech, on the evolution of color vision to allow us to do just that sort of emotion sensing has led to the glasses. Currently, they’re being tested for medical applications, helping doctors sense anemia, anger, and fear, but if the glasses are adapted for “real-world” use, such as in decrypting a poker player’s blank stare, it seems to me that the filters could be added to our camera setups or software systems to help automate this sort of emotion detection.

Really, it would be one more weapon in the arsenal of the data war we’re trying to fight. Just as Earth and ocean scientists have made leaps in understanding from being able to use satellites to sample the whole Earth virtually every day instead of taking ship-based or buoy-based measurements far apart in space and time, so do we hope to make leaps and bounds in understanding how visitors learn. If we can get our technology to automate data collection and vastly improve the spatial and temporal resolution of our data, hopefully we’ll move into our own satellite era.

Thanks to GOOD magazine and PSFK for the tips.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a reply