Emotion Recognition ... wirelessly

Comparison of EQ-Radio with Image-based Emotion Recognition. The figure shows the accuracies (on the y-axis) of EQ-Radio and Microsoft’s Emotion API in differ- entiating among the four emotions (on the x-axis). Credit: MIT

Researchers are trespassing more and more from the solid world of atoms into the more subtle world of "spirituality". Of course the philosophical dichotomy between matter and spirits going back at least 2,500 years is not a scientific tenet to which scientists are bound.

Yet, in our everyday perception it is perfectly acceptable, and natural, that a computer can detect our blood pressure or measure our cornea "sphericity" but it is not that easy to accept that a computer can "measure" our level of happiness or detect we are feeling blue.

Yet, researchers are finding ways to probe more and more into our "feelings" and a new branch of computer science is emerging "emotion detection".

Now in an article presented at ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking a team of researchers at MIT show how our emotion can be detected wirelessly measuring tiny variations in the reflection of the electrical field.

They have developed a device that beams a wireless electromagnetic field (RF) to a person and captures the reflections caused by the body. These reflections are affected by the respiration and heart beat. By analysing these variations a software can detects emotional states like sadness, happiness, stress, anger...

In their article the researchers compare the results with the emotional state detected through more usual approaches and come up with a very high level of "correctness".

Are we moving towards an age where just by looking at our smart phone screen we can tell if the boss on the other side of the hall is relaxed and in good mood, just what we need to submit to her our new projects ideas and ask for funding?

Will technology provide an answer and clear the fog (at least a little bit) I often feel when trying to understand the other half of the sky? Well that would be nothing short of a miracle!

Author - Roberto Saracco

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