Social X-Ray Glasses Help Decipher Facial Expressions


Reading someone’s body language can be challenging at times, especially facial expressions.  You can't always be sure if someone is confused or frustrated. If you misinterpret an expression, it can lead to an uncomfortable interaction.  This is a problem that people with autism face daily, because for them it can be almost impossible to correctly read another’s emotions. The new "social x-ray glasses" are designed to help.

Researcher Rana el Kaliouby at the University of Cambridge, U.K., began to ponder the use of technology in helping to decipher facial expressions.  She thought it would be helpful for those with autism.

After she developed the database of emotions and expressions, she needed to build a prototype of the glasses.  She partnered with electrical engineer Rosalina Picard of M.I.T. to design the glasses.

The glasses have a teeny tiny camera that can read the 24 feature points, or facial expressions a person has.  These expressions can signal confusion, concentration and agreement, and others.  Once the camera picks up the expression, it is analyzed by software and matched to a list of emotions.  It is then passed along to the user by headphones.

Picard admits that the algorithm needs a bit of tweaking but is happy to acknowledge that the glasses have already been successful in helping autistic people.

This handy bit of technology is not only helpful for autistic people but has implications for the rest of us, as well. Imagine being able to walk through an airport and read the faces of others or know what your blind date really thinks of you. 


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Categories: Gadgets and Gizmos

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